Mr J and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date03 July 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that the Department was justified in its decision to refuse access to the records sought. He affirmed the decision of the Department.
Record Number150069
RespondentDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Whether the Department was justified in refusing the applicant's request for records held on his file relating to the Farm Modernisation Scheme under section 10(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that the records sought do not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps have been taken to ascertain their whereabouts
Conducted in accordance with section 34(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review
Background

The applicant submitted a request to the Department on 23 July 2014 seeking access to all records in his specified file relating to the Farm Modernisation Scheme (FMS), and quoting his herd number. The applicant stated in his application that his application under the scheme would have been approved in 1980. On 21 August 2014, the Department issued its decision stating that the records requested could not be found after all reasonable steps had been undertaken to ascertain their whereabouts.

The applicant was not satisfied with this decision and applied for an internal review on 2 September 2014. The Department issued its internal review decision on 25 September 2014, upholding its original decision. The applicant applied to this Office for a review of that decision on 15 January 2015.

During the course of the review the Department, in submissions to this Office,detailed the searches carried out for the records requested by the applicant and stated that these records had been destroyed and so did not exist.

Mr. Christopher Campbell of this Office contacted the applicant on 6 May 2015 and informed him of the Department's position and conveyed details of the searches carried out. The applicant, in his response of 11 May 2015, indicated that he was not satisfied with this response. Accordingly, I consider that this review should be brought to a close by means of a formal binding decision.

In conducting this review I have had regard to the submissions of the Department on this request and its communications with this Office and with the applicant, to the communications of the applicant with the Department and with this Office, and to the provisions of the FOI Act.

In the interests of clarity, I should point out that this review was carried out under the provisions of the FOI Acts 1997 -2003 notwithstanding the fact that the FOI Act 2014 has now been enacted. The transitional provisions in section 55 of the 2014 Act provide that any action commenced...

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