Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has issued two decisions regarding the Ministry of Education Headquarters and the Cabinet Office.
A spokesperson said, “On 21 December 2021, Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez issued Decision 17/2021, Ministry of Education Headquarters [Ministry] and Decision 18/2021, Cabinet Office.
“In Decision 17/2021, the Information Commissioner considered the Ministry’s decision to transfer a Public Access to Information [PATI] request, which sought records of a legal settlement, to another public authority. The Ministry had decided during the internal review stage that it did not hold any record responsive to the request.
“The PATI Act assumes that all transfers will occur at the initial stage within five working days of the request being received. In this case, the PATI request should have been but was not transferred during the initial decision stage. The Information Commissioner has offered procedural guidance for the heads of public authorities who may face a similar situation as discussed in Decision 17/2021.
“Upon hearing representations from the Ministry, the Information Commissioner has upheld the Ministry’s internal review decision to have transferred the request. However, she has found that the Ministry failed to complete the transfer, along with meeting other procedural requirements, within the statutory deadline or an otherwise reasonable timeframe. Since the Applicant was sufficiently notified of the transfer during her review, the Information Commissioner has not required the Ministry to take further action on this matter.
“In Decision 18/2021, the Information Commissioner considered the Cabinet Office’s failure to issue an internal review decision within the six-week statutory timeline. The Information Commissioner acknowledged the good intentions, on the part of the Cabinet Office and the Applicant alike, in trying to work beyond the statutory timeframes. She cautioned that, in doing so, the Applicant’s rights to review were at some risk. Nothing in the PATI Act would have prevented the Cabinet Office from complying with the statutory timeframes in handling the request, while, for instance, voluntarily disclosing records at a later time, as a matter of good customer service.
“The Information Commissioner has ordered the Cabinet Office’s Head of Authority to complete the internal review and to issue its decision to the Applicant by 25 January 2022.
“Decisions 17/2021 and 18/2021 are available on www.ico.bm.”
The full version of Decision 17/2021 follows below [PDF here]:
The full version of Decision 18/2021 follows below [PDF here]: