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  • Commissioner “…insufficiently rigorous”

    Posted on November 26th, 2009 admin No comments
    One way to beat the Congestion Charge
    One way to beat the Congestion Charge

    The Information Tribunal has overturned a decision of the Commissioner and criticised the ICO’s initial assessment of the case.

    The appeal relates to a case about a previously secret document held by Transport for London, which staff could refer to when considering whether to waive a Congestion Charge penalty fare.

    Initially the Information Commissioner ruled the document should remain secret stating it was subject to the S.31 (Law Enforcement) exemption.

    However, this decision was overturned at the Tribunal at which the judgement stated: “…the Commissioner’s analysis of the position was unfortunately insufficiently rigorous”.

    The legal aspect of this case revolved around the age old subject of “prejudice” and “evidence” in relation to S.31.

    The Commissioner accepted Transport for London’s case that the release of the document was likely to prejudice its enforcement functions – in that there were details in the booklet that people looking to evade the charge might be able to use to their benefit.

    But the Tribunal were not convinced by the argument and stated: “Does the evidence establish the existence of such a risk?”

    When the Tribunal assessed the evidence it said: “Indeed our impression was that disclosure of the document to the public might positively assist (rather than prejudice) the whole process by making it clear to some would-be evaders that certain representations would have no prospect of success.”

    Indeed the Tribunal were so clear there was no “evidence” that they ruled the exemption was not even engaged and so didn’t go on to consider the public interest test.

    You can see the Tribunal decision here [link] and the original Commissioner’s ruling here [link].