Mr Y and the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator
Judgment Date14 September 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that the Ombudsman's Office was justified in its decision to refuse access to the records sought by the applicant under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act. He affirmed the decision of the Ombudsman's Office.
Record Number150188
RespondentOffice of the Pensions Ombudsman
Whether the Ombudsman's Office was justified in its decision to refuse access to certain records relating to comments made by the Ombudsman in connection with a specified European Court of Justice ruling on the ground that no such records exist
Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review

Background

On 30 January 2015, the applicant submitted a request to the Ombudsman's Office for certain records relating to comments made by the Pensions Ombudsman to the media after the announcement of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in the Waterford Crystal Pension case, including the record of the Ombudsman's comments, material used to inform the Ombudsman's analysis and conclusions, material considered by the Ombudsman in his analysis of the judgment, and records of contacts between the Ombudsman's Office and other bodies in relation to the impact of the judgment. On 4 February 2015 the Ombudsman's Office refused the applicant's request, on the basis that no records of the kind sought exist.

On 5 February 2015 the applicant requested an internal review of that decision and on 9 February 2015 the Ombudsman's Office issued its internal review decision, upholding the original decision. The applicant sought a review by this Office of the Ombudsman's Office's decision on 18 June 2015.

I note that Mr Art Foley of this Office wrote to the applicant on 4 August 2015 to inform him of his view that the Ombudsman's Office was justified in refusing the request access to the records sought and invited the applicant to make further comments if he disagreed with this view. Following further correspondence, the applicant indicated, on 14 August 2015, that he required a binding decision on the matter. I therefore consider that this review should now be brought to a close by issue of a formal, binding decision.

In conducting this review, I have had regard to correspondence between the Ombudsman's Office and the applicant as set out above. I have also had regard to communications between this Office and the applicant, and to communications between this Office and the Ombudsman's Office on the matter.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether the Ombudsman's Office was justified in refusing access to the records sought by the applicant under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act, on the ground that the records sought do not exist.

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