Oh dear. Lost again. The Tribunal has decided not to allow UK citizens to know why the Data Protection Act 1998 is defective, even though we are all discussing its replacement. The Tribunal decided at the time of the request, that the exemptions claimed by the MoJ applied.
However, the judgment ends with the following statements; do you think that this is an invitation to do the whole request again? If so, can you post a comment (without expletives) on this blog (see comments link at bottom).
This Tribunal however has to consider the facts and circumstances of this particular case. Infraction proceedings started in 2004. They have been largely resolved. It appears the outstanding issues have been parked and that the Regulations will replace the DPA in the foreseeable future. Draft Regulations are now out for consultation. The public interest in transparency and openness in knowing the outstanding issues could contribute considerably to understanding whether and how the draft Regulations deal with them and help provide meaningful public responses to the consultation on such an important area of human rights.
However that is the position now and was not necessarily the position at the time of the request which was some two years earlier. At that time the negotiations of the Regulations had at best just started and there was no public consultation. However there was a need for confidentiality as explained above. Therefore we find the need for transparency at the time of the request cannot be given significant weight.
We find having weighed the public interest factors to and for disclosure that at the time of the request the balance narrowly favours maintaining the exemption. If the request was made today we may have come to another conclusion but we are bound by the law to consider the public interest test as at the time of the request.
I will ponder the judgment more carefully and come to a decision after a well earned holiday.
But I thought you should know the bad news; it is a major disappointment, I have to say.
The Tribunal Decision ( EA/2012/0110 Ministry of Justice v the Information Commissioner & Dr C Pounder) is on http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/Public/search.aspx
European-Commission-explains-why-UK’s-Data-Protection-Act-is-deficient.html (Feb 2011)
Data-Protection-Act-fails-to-implement-50%-of-the-Directive.html (Nov 2009)
Question-answered-why-does-the-European-Commission-think-the-UK’s-Data-Protection-Act-is-a-deficient-implementation-of.html (Feb 2013)