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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50186249
  • Date: 10 November 2009
  • Public Authority: Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
  • Summary: The complainant asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for information about the legal qualifications of the policy advisors who provided the advice or opinion in respect of a previous communication between DEFRA and the complainant. DEFRA replied with some general information about legal qualifications for advisors, but refusing to disclose any information specific to the request, citing section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”) stating that it regarded all information regarding qualifications of staff as personal information. The Commissioner has investigated the complaint and has found that the requested information constitutes personal data and its disclosure would breach the first data protection principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“the DPA”), which requires that personal data be processed fairly and lawfully. The Commissioner believes that the information was exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) by virtue of section 40 (3) (a) (i). However, the Commissioner has also decided that DEFRA is in breach of Section 10 (1) by failing to reply to the complainant within the required timeframe, as well as Section 17(1) (b), in that it did not fully cite the exemption it was seeking to rely upon. The Commissioner requires no steps to be taken.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]