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

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty, Senior Investigato
Judgment Date09 September 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that the Department was justified in its decision to refuse to alter the record under section 9 of the FOI Act on the ground that the applicant had not identified any personal information in the record as incomplete, incorrect or misleading.
Record Number150165
RespondentDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Whether the Department was justified in refusing to make specified amendments to a record relating to his grievance with Teagasc and his related allegations of fraud
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

The applicant submitted a request to the Department on 28 January 2015 for the amendment of an internal briefing note that had been created by the Corporate Services Division of the Department relating to his grievance with Teagasc and his related allegations of fraud. He requested that the record be amended to show:

  • The name and rank of the author.
  • Who requested this information.
  • The interested parties with whom his personal information is being shared.

The Department refused the applicant's request on 3 February 2015, on the basis that the amendments sought do not complete or correct his personal information. On 18 February 2015 the applicant requested an internal review of the Department's decision. In its internal review decision dated 27 February 2015, the Department affirmed its original decision to refuse the applicant's request. Nevertheless, the Department went on to provide the name and grade of the author of the record, details of the persons for whom the record was created and the purpose for which it was created.

The applicant sought a review by this Office of the Department's decision on 1 June 2015. In conducting this review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the Department and the applicant as set out above, to the contents of the record at issue, and to the submissions received by this Office from the applicant.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with the question of whether the Department was justified in refusing the applicant's request for the specific amendments sought by the applicant of the record at issue.

Analysis and Findings

Section 9 of the FOI Act provides for the amendment of personal information in a record held by a public body where that information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading. The Act is silent on the question of where the onus of proof lies in such cases. The Information Commissioner takes the view that, in the absence of any express statement in the FOI Act, the onus of proof lies on the applicant as the party...

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