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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50238030
  • Date: 5 October 2009
  • Public Authority: Durham County Council
  • Summary: On 10 September 2008 the complainant submitted a Freedom of Information request to Durham County Council (the ‘council’). This asked ‘to see all legal advice to support the Authorities [sic] public policy regarding the processing of confidential correspondence – Code of Conduct members, Human Rights Act etc’. This was part of an ongoing exchange between the complainant and the council concerning a letter which was opened in accordance with council procedure and read by their Monitoring Officer despite it being marked “private and confidential” and addressed to the Chairman of the Standards Committee. At internal review, the council refused to supply the information and cited section 42(1) of the Freedom of Information Act. The Commissioner considers that the council were correct to cite section 42(1) and has determined that the information does attract legal professional privilege and that the public interest favours maintaining the exemption. However, the Commissioner has found that in failing to provide the full public interest arguments, the council has breached section 17(3).
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]