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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50150272
  • Date: 30 July 2008
  • Public Authority: HM Customs and Excise
  • Summary: The complainant asked the public authority for information about when it and Treasury ministers had first become aware of identity fraud in the Tax Credit system, and for any estimates of suspected identity fraud cases which it had made in 2005. The public authority noted that some of the information was already reasonably accessible and therefore exempt under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’), while the rest was exempt under section 31(1)(a), although it provided a generalised explanation of its anti-fraud measures. After the Commissioner’s intervention the public authority agreed that the greater part of the withheld information should have been released, its failure to do so in response to the request constituting a breach of section 10(1) of the Act and section 1(1)(b). The Commissioner decided that some further information withheld under section 31(1)(a) should also be disclosed. Further, he decided that information which the public authority considered not to fall within the request did in fact do. In respect of this information section 31(1)(a) is not engaged and therefore the failure to disclose it constituted a breach of section 1(1)(b) of the Act. The Commissioner also decided that the public authority had failed to comply with its duty to issue the refusal notices within the time limit set out in section 10(1) of the Act, which constitutes a breach of section 17(1) of the Act. Further the refusal notice of 10 April 2006 failed to refer to the section 21 exemption explicitly, a breach of section 17(1)(b) of the Act. Finally in failing to confirm and deny that it held information covered by the second part of the first request and to provide it to the complainant HMRC breached section 1(1)(a) and (b) of the Act.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]