ICO rule that Wirral Council’s refusal of FOI request based on "commercial interests" is incorrect (FS50585536)
The Information Commissioner’s Office have issued another decision notice in favour of this blog. You can read it for yourself as I’ve uploaded it to the blog decision notice FS50585536 (although eventually it’ll be published on ICO’s website).
It’s five pages, so I’ll summarise what it states and go into the history.
As a local government elector during the 2013/14 audit I requested various invoices for legal work which I have a legal right to inspect and receive free copies of as a local government elector on the Wirral.
Sadly the invoices that this decision notice refer to were only the first page of a multi-page invoice. I made a FOI request for the rest of the invoices. One was for £48,384 and the other for £2,700 (both from Weightmans).
Wirral Council first refused the request on a quite baseless and ludicrous application of stating that they were covered by legal professional privilege.
Whoever dealt with it at internal review agreed with me that this was incorrect.
However then Wirral Council refused the request giving the reason of "Commercial interests".
The Information Commissioner’s Office was not convinced by Wirral Council’s arguments and has rejected Wirral’s application of withholding the information based on commercial interests.
I am pleased the decision notice doesn’t give Wirral Council the option to "pick another reason" to withhold the information. There’s one request I have to Wirral Council now on its third decision notice because Wirral Council has exploited that loophole in the past.
So Wirral Council have (well had from the date of the decision notice which was 2 days ago) 35 days to supply the information or 28 days to appeal the decision.
Let’s hope Wirral Council stop playing games over freedom of information and do the right thing?
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