Water companies are public authorities and must therefore disclose environmental information – UK Human Rights Blog

‘Water and sewage utility companies are “public authorities” for the purposes of the environmental information regulations, and are bound by them accordingly, the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal has ruled.’

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UK Human Rights Blog, 16th April 2015

Source: www.ukhumanrightsblog.com

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Freedom of information: round-up – Law Society’s Gazette

‘Transparency and openness for local authorities does not just mean disclosing information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoI). Section 3 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 gives the secretary of state the power to issue a code of practice about the publication of information by local authorities relating to the discharge of their functions.’

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Law Society’s Gazette, 13th April 2015

Source: www.lawgazette.co.uk

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R (on the application of Evans) and another (Respondents) v Attorney General (Appellant) – Supreme Court

R (on the application of Evans) and another (Respondents) v Attorney General (Appellant) [2015] UKSC 21 (YouTube)

Supreme Court, 26th March 2015

Source: www.youtube.com/user/UKSupremeCourt

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Why we should see Andrew Lansley’s diary in the run up to 2011 NHS reforms – UK Human Rights Blog

‘Department of Health v. Information Commissioner et al [2015] UKUT 159, 30 March 2015, Charles J read judgment Simon Lewis requested that the Department of Health supply him with copies of the ministerial diary of Andrew Lansley from May 2010 until April 2011, via a Freedom of Information request. Mr Lewis’s interest in all this is not revealed in the judgment, but I dare say included seeing whether the Minister was being lobbied by private companies eager to muscle in on the NHS in this critical period. But such is the nature of FOIA litigation that it does not really look at the motive of the requester – and this case does not tell us what the diary showed. Indeed by the time of this appeal, Lewis was untraceable, and the burden of the argument in favour of disclosure was taken up by the Information Commissioner.’

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UK Human Rights Blog, 10th April 2015

Source: www.ukhumanrightsblog.com

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Alison Young: R (Evans) v Attorney General [2015] UKSC 21 – the Anisminic of the 21st Century? – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘On Thursday 26th March the Supreme Court concluded, to the delight of The Guardian and the dismay of the Prime Minister, that communications between Prince Charles and government Ministers – the so-called ‘black spider memos’ – should be released. This has been a long saga, involving issues of freedom of information, discussion of constitutional conventions surrounding the behaviour of a Monarch in training, which now also includes the principle of legality and the nature of the relationship between parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law. Such a cornucopia of delights for constitutional lawyers guarantees that the case has earned its place in the ‘Constitutional law Case list Hall of Fame’, with the promise of further delight as the memos, once released and savoured, cast an insight into the relationship between the Crown and the Government.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 31st March 2015

Source: www.ukconstitutionallaw.org

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Untangling the spider’s web: Evans at the Supreme Court – Halsbury’s Law Exchange

‘On Friday, 27th March, the Supreme Court handed down a decision which will be as much of interest to public lawyers as information rights practitioners alike. Evans, a journalist for the Guardian newspaper utilised the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to seek the disclosure of letters sent by Prince Charles to seven government departments between September 2004 and March 2005. The departments refused to disclose the letters (so-called “black spider” memos on account of the Prince’s handwriting) on the basis that they were exempt from doing so. In their view the letters represented private correspondence which effectively allowed the Prince to prepare for “kingship.” Evans subsequently complained to the Information Commissioner who upheld the refusal before appealing to the Information Tribunal. The Tribunal held that many of the letters should be disclosed as they constituted “advocacy correspondence.”’

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Halsbury’s Law Exchange, 31st March 2015

Source: www.halsburyslawexchange.co.uk

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The Tale of the Black Spider: The Supreme Court speaks – UK Human Rights Blog

‘And so, the long legal saga of the Black Spider Letters finally comes to a close.

I last blogged about this case back in October 2012. At that time, the Attorney General had ignited controversy by invoking a little-known power under section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).’

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UK Human Rights Blog, 27th March 2015

Source: www.ukhumanrightsblog.com

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Google and the DPA – RIP section 13(2) – Panopticon

Posted March 30th, 2015 in appeals, damages, data protection, freedom of information, internet, news, privacy by sally

‘Well, isn’t this an exciting week (and I don’t mean Zayn leaving One Direction)? First, Evans and now Vidal-Hall. We only need Dransfield to appear before Easter and there will be a full red bus analogy. Robin opened yesterday’s analysis of Evans by remarking on the sexiness of FOIA. If there is one thing you learn quickly as an information law practitioner, it is not to engage in a sexiness battle with Robin Hopkins. But high-profile though Evans is, the judgment in Vidal-Hall will be of far wider significance to anyone having to actually work in the field, rather than simply tuning every now and then to see the Supreme Court say something constitutional against a FOIA background. Vidal-Hall might not be the immediate head-turner, but it is probably going to be the life-changer for most of us. So, while still in the ‘friend zone’ with the Court of Appeal, before it all gets serious, it is important to explain what Vidal-Hall v Google [2015] EWCA Civ 311 does.’

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Panopticon, 27th March 2015

Source: www.panopticonblog.com

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Why Evans gets the spiders – Panopticon

‘The Supreme Court’s judgment in R (Evans) v Attorney General [2015] UKSC 21 has received vast amounts of media coverage – more in a single day than everything else about FOI has received in ten years, I reckon. No need to explain what the case was about – the upshot is that Rob Evans gets Prince Charles’ ‘black spider’ letters. Here’s why.’

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Panopticon, 26th March 2015

Source: www.panopticonblog.com

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Supreme court to rule on publishing Prince Charles’ ‘black spider memos’ – The Guardian

‘The supreme court will rule on Thursday on whether highly sensitive secret correspondence between Prince Charles and government ministers should at last be released in the public interest.’

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The Guardian, 25th March 2015

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

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Extension of Freedom of Information Act to Network Rail – Ministry of Justice

Posted March 25th, 2015 in freedom of information, news, railways, statistics, transport by sally

‘Passengers and the public can request information directly from the authority which runs Britain’s rail infrastructure for the very first time from Tuesday 24 March.’

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Ministry of Justice, 23rd March 2015

Source: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice

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Supreme court to rule on Prince Charles letters – The Guardian

‘The supreme court’s judgment on whether the government unlawfully blocked the publication of a series of secret letters written by Prince Charles is due to be made public on Thursday next week, court officials have announced.

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The Guardian, 20th March 2015

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

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Freedom of Information and Data Protection: Case Law Update 2014 – Thirty Nine Essex Street

‘This paper covers key information rights cases in 2014. The breadth of issues covered below, from legal professional privilege, human rights to vexatious requests, demonstrates the overlap between information law and many other areas of public law. This paper is intended to provide guidance, even for those who are not steeped, day-to-day, in the workings of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) and the Data Protection Act 1998 (the “DPA”), on the practical implications of these developments.’

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Thirty Nine Essex Street, February 2015

Source: www.39essex.com

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Hundreds of convicted sex offenders are missing, new figures show – The Guardian

Posted March 10th, 2015 in freedom of information, homelessness, news, police, sexual offences, statistics by tracey

‘A total of 396 registered sex offenders – who are supposed to be monitored by police and inform authorities if they change address – are missing across the UK, with some out of contact with police for more than a decade, according to freedom of information responses to the Press Association.’

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The Guardian, 10th March 2015

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

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Sir Cliff Richard’s privacy was ‘violated’ by police deal with BBC, report claims – Daily Telegraph

Posted February 24th, 2015 in BBC, freedom of information, media, news, police, privacy, reports by sally

‘A damning report has alleged that ‘incompetent’ police chiefs violated Sir Cliff Richard’s privacy by disclosing details of a raid on his home to the BBC’

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Daily Telegraph, 23rd February 2015

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

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Quite like a whale – Panopticon

‘As my colleague Robin Hopkins has warned, the decision of the Upper Tribunal in Fish Legal looks like a pretty big beast: sixty pages on whether water companies are public authorities for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations, applying the CJEU’s lengthy ruling on the points of principle (for which, see this post by Chris Knight).’

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Panopticon, 24th February 2015

Source: www.panopticonblog.com

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Down the Rabbit Hole – Late Reliance under FOIA – Panopticon

Posted February 16th, 2015 in case management, freedom of information, news, tribunals by sally

‘Says the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, “Oh my furry whiskers, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” Although the application of FOIA may sometimes feel like Wonderland, the feeling it induces is normally more akin to turning up unexpectedly at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (although attributing FTT judicial figures to the characters of the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse is beyond me). But one thing that has, since Birkett v DEFRA [2011] EWCA Civ 1606, not generally proved very controversial is the question of late reliance on exemptions; the White Rabbit need have little fear. Birkett made clear that late (usually after the DN and in the course of litigation before the FTT) reliance on substantive exemptions is permissible, subject to case management powers, under the EIR. The unappealed equivalent decision under FOIA, Information Commissioner v Home Office [2011] UKUT 17 (AAC), has generally been assumed to be correct.’

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Panopticon, 15th February 2015

Source: www.panopticonblog.com

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Data protection laws broken 13 times by Companies House – BBC News

Posted February 16th, 2015 in data protection, freedom of information, news by sally

‘Confidential and personal details were sent to the wrong people by staff at Companies House in Cardiff, BBC Wales has learned.’

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BBC News, 14th February 2015

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

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The Algebra of FOIA – Panopticon

Posted February 9th, 2015 in disclosure, freedom of information, news, public interest, tribunals by sally

‘It is no matter of Euclidian geometry to say that where x + y = z, and z = 13, being told what y equals one need not be Pythagoras to establish the value of x. But what happens when z is in the public domain, x is absolutely exempt information under FOIA (because it is caught by section 23(1)) and the public interest otherwise favours the disclosure of y, which is not the subject of an exemption? Inevitably, the effect of disclosure is that the absolutely exempt information is also revealed. The Interim Decision of the Upper Tribunal in Home Office v ICO & Cobain [2014] UKUT 306 (AAC) was that the Tribunal had to consider whether it was appropriate to utilise the section 50(4) FOIA power so as not to direct disclosure. The issue may be formulaic, but the answer is not.’

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Panopticon, 6th February 2015

Source: www.panopticonblog.com

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Britain open to terrorist drone attacks due to lax aviation rules, experts fear – The Independent

Posted January 26th, 2015 in aircraft, bills, disclosure, enforcement, freedom of information, news, terrorism by sally

‘Terrorists could use swarms of drones to bring down passenger aircraft, disperse chemical or biological weapons and target a nuclear power plants in Britain because of our lax aviation rules.’

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The Independent, 23rd January 2015

Source: www.independent.co.uk

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