Mr Y and The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeElizabeth Dolan Senior Investigator
Judgment Date15 July 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that the Department was justified in its decision to refuse access to the record sought by the applicant under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act. She affirmed the decision of the Department
Record Number150075
RespondentThe Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Whether the Department was justified in its decision to refuse access to a full and final version of the Sustainable Management of Interactions between Aquaculture and Wild Salmonid Fish (SUMBAWS) report sought by the applicant under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the basis that the record does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act by Elizabeth Dolan, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review Background

On 28 November 2014 the applicant submitted a request to the Department for "the full and final report of the SUMBAWS Project". On 30 December 2014, the Department refused the applicant's request under section 15(1)(a) of the Act, on the basis that the record was not held by the Department. The Department stated in its decision that the report sought by the applicant was co-ordinated by St. Andrews University, Scotland, and funded by the European Commission.

The applicant sought an internal review of this decision on 12 January 2015, as he was not satisfied by the response of the Department. On 9 February the Department issued its internal review decision, upholding its original decision to refuse access to the record under section 15(1)(a) of the Act. The internal review decision of the Department stated that while the Department did not hold the record sought by the applicant, it would assist the applicant in refining his request in order to facilitate access to the records which were held by the Department, and made reference to correspondence exchanged between the parties in which this invitation was offered.

On 13 March 2015 the applicant sought a review by this Office of the Department's decision.

I note that Mr Art Foley of this Office wrote to the applicant on 16 June 2015 with details of the searches carried out by the Department to locate the record sought by him, and of the rationale employed by the Department in its decision that the "full and final" version of the SUMBAWS report was not held by it. Mr Foley informed the applicant of his view that the Department was justified in its decision, and invited the applicant to make further comments if he disagreed with this view. The applicant, in an email of 30 June 2015, stated that he remained of the opinion that the full and final version of the SUMBAWS report was held by the Department. The applicant had previously indicated, on 6 May 2015, that he wished this review to proceed to a decision. I therefore consider that this review should be brought to a close by issue of a binding decision.

In conducting this review, I have had regard to correspondence between the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT