Mr Z and the Department of Education and Skills

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date23 June 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the decision of the Department under section 15(1)(a) of the Act
Record Number150060
RespondentThe Department of Education and Skills
Whether the Department was justified in deciding that it had released all relevant records coming within the scope of the applicant's request for records relating to certain briefing material concerning school transport services and in deciding that no further relevant records exist or can be found 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 5 January 2015, the applicant made a request to the Department for certain records relating to a document that he stated had been altered by the removal of the words "original agreement" when annexed to briefing material provided to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Specifically he sought access to the following:

All versions of a document described as "Briefing note given to the Public Accounts Committee by the Department of Education and Skills in correspondence dated the 18th November 2011 relating to issues raised by Coach Tourism Transport Council of Ireland".
All versions of the documents with the title "Annex 1: Briefing note given to the Public Accounts Committee by the Department of Education and Skills in correspondence dated the 18th November 2011 relating to issues raised by Coach Tourism Transport Council of Ireland"

Any documents that showed the identity of all persons who prepared the documents at 1 and 2 above, who removed the words "original agreement" from one of the documents, who knew that it was altered, and who approved of the alteration.

On 30 January 2015, the Department issued a decision granting his request. It identified 12 records relating to the applicant's request, which it released in full. On 3 February 2015, the applicant sought an internal review of the Department's decision, seeking clarification on a number of issues that arose from his examination of the records released. The Department's internal review decision, which issued on 24 February 2015, upheld the original decision. On 25 February 2015, the applicant applied to this Office for a review of the Department's decision.

During the course of this review, Ms Sandra Murdiff, Investigating Officer, contacted the applicant and provided him with details of clarifications received from the Department relating to his queries. She informed the applicant of her view that the Department was justified in deciding that no further relevant records exist or can be found and she...

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