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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50124442
  • Date: 5 March 2009
  • Public Authority: Cabinet Office
  • Summary: The complainant asked the public authority for information in a file entitled ‘Arrangements for Mark Thatcher’s overseas trips and security 1982-90’, and to provide a schedule of the documents within it. The public authority cited section 27 of the Act and extended the time limit in order to consider the public interest test. It subsequently cited sections 23, 24, 27(1)(a), 27(2) and 36(2)(b). The Commissioner decided that the public authority failed, within the statutory time limit, to issue its original refusal notice and to specify the exemption(s) which it was applying, a breach of sections 10(1) and 17(1); and that, in extending the time limit for consideration of the public interest test for an unreasonable length period it also breached section 17(3). In response to the request for a schedule, the public authority breached section 1(1)(a) by claiming that it did not hold that information and section 10(1) by failing to confirm within the statutory time limit that it was held. In relation to the exemptions, it failed to specify which sub-section of section 27, and sub-paragraph of section 36(2)(b), applied to each element of the information, in breach of its obligations under section 17(1)(b). It failed to identify that sections 21 and 40 applied to some of the information, instead improperly withholding it by reference to other exemptions, a breach of section 17(1)(b). It did not comply with its obligations under section 1(1)(b) in that it failed to communicate to the complainant information to which he was entitled, on the mistaken basis that it was exempt from disclosure under sections 27(1)(a), 27(2), and 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii), which also constituted a breach of the time limit in section 10(1). Finally, it applied section 24 to certain information even though all of it was exempt by virtue of section 23(1), thereby breaching section 24(1) of the Act. The Commissioner concluded that the public authority had properly withheld some information but the remaining information should now be disclosed. Information Tribunal appeal (EA/2009/0022) has been withdrawn.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]