Information Complacency Office

For years we have been seeking the contractually agreed rates for repairs between Highways England (HE) and Kier Highways.  The Authority’s Ms Jones spent time cataloguing requestors `175 requests/response of ‘held’ between 2013 and 2018.  The Authority knew precisely what we wanted following our 57 requests during the above period Ms. Jones writing: 

‘ I believe that the majority of Mr Swift’s requests relate to a specific issue or related issues, namely the rates that contractors charge third parties for the costs of repairing damage to highways resulting from accidents/negligence’

Highway England repeatedly responded ‘held’ but cited exemptions to keep the information secret.

But in late 2018, their FoIA exemptions fell away spectacularly, a Judge recording, APPEAL: EA/2018/0088:

  • the motive of the requestor had a serious purpose and arose from genuine and informed concern but had significant value with a high degree of Public Interest.
  • the request was not a manifestly unjustified, inappropriate or improper use of FOIA.
  • the requests were of such a scale that the important information sought by the Appellant should have been within their capacity to process without causing harassment or distress.
  • the failure to recognise and process the requests was principally caused by inadequate or inaccurate responses by the personnel within Public Authority.
  • the requestors behaviour was not manifestly unreasonable.
  • We have been persuaded that he (Mr Swift) has received erroneous information.

Of course, we may never have been before a Tribunal had the ICO read our submissions but, to paraphrase Ms Clements (ICO), the issues are complicated and the writing lengthy; the ICO does not have the resources, that is for a Tribunal … read more here.  

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