Ms X and the Department of Social Protection

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date25 June 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator varied the decision of the Department. He found that the Department was justified under section 19(1)(a) of the FOI Act in refusing access to one of the records at issue, and that it was justified under section 22(1)(a) of the Act in refusing access to one further record. He found that the Department was not justified under section 22(1)(a) of the FOI Act in refusing to release the remainder of the records at issue. He directed the release of those records.
Record Number150002
RespondentDepartment of Social Protection
Whether the Department was justified under sections 19(1)(a) and 22(1)(a) of the FOI Act in its decision to refuse access to records sought by the applicant, comprising of correspondence concerning access to General Register Office information 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

On 30 July 2014, the applicant requested various records from the Department, comprising of correspondence concerning access to General Register Office information. The Department issued its decision on 2 September 2014, granting access to some records, but refusing access to others under sections 19(1)(a) and 22(1)(a) of the FOI Act. On 9 September 2014, the applicant sought an internal review of this decision. The internal reviewer issued his decision on 7 October 2014, affirming the original decision, but also identifying two further records as coming within the scope of the applicant's request, one of which was released to her, while access was refused to the other under section 22(1)(a) of the FOI Act. On 23 December 2014, the applicant sought a review by this Office of the Department's decision.

I note that, in correspondence with Mr Niall Mulligan of this Office, the Department has furnished submissions relating to the matters at issue. I therefore consider that the review should now be brought to a close by the issue of a formal, binding decision.

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 under the 1997 Act but not completed before the commencement of the 2014 Act shall continue to be performed and shall be completed as if the 1997 Act had not been repealed.

In conducting my review, I have had regard to the Department's decisions on the matter and its communications with this Office, as well as the applicant's communications with this Office and the Department, and to the records at issue, a copy of which has been furnished to this Office for the purpose of this review. I have also had regard to the provisions of the FOI Act.

Scope of the Review

This review is concerned solely with the questions of whether the Department was justified under section 19(1)(a) of the FOI Act in...

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