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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50169313
  • Date: 23 October 2008
  • Public Authority: British Museum
  • Summary: The complaint submitted two requests to the British Museum, the first focusing on the ‘Parthenon Marbles’ and the second on the ‘Terracotta Army’. The British Museum provided some information in relation to these requests but relied on the exemptions contained at sections 22, 31, 36 and 43 of the Act to withhold the remainder of the information. With the exception of the application of section 22, the complainant asked the Commissioner to consider whether these exemptions had been applied correctly. With regard to the information relating to the first request the Commissioner has concluded that although three letters written by the Museum’s Director are exempt on the basis of section 36, the public interest favours withholding only two of these letters. With to the second request, during the course of the Commissioner’s investigation the British Museum suggested that it was now relying on section 12 of the Act to refuse to answer part of this request. The Commissioner has concluded that section 12 can be correctly relied upon and that some of the information is exempt from disclosure on the basis of sections 36 and 43 and that the public interest favours withholding this information. However, the Commissioner has also concluded that in respect of the remainder of the information covered by request two the exemptions contained at sections 31 and 43 of the Act are not engaged. Furthermore, the Commissioner has concluded that British Museum breached section 17(1)(b) by failing to state in its refusal notice the specific sub-sections of the exemptions it was relying on to refuse the complainant’s request as well as breaching all the requirements of section 17(5) by failing to provide a refusal notice citing section 12.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]