Fri, 26 Feb 2010

With the agreement of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), we are publishing correspondence between the two organisations concerning a statement made by the ICO to the Sunday Times newspaper.

These confirm that no further evidence had been sought or obtained by the ICO with regard to an alleged breach of Section 77 and that with regard to the Section 50 complaint no decision notice had been issued and no alleged breaches had been put to the University for comment. Any assertion that the University has been found in breach of any part the Freedom of Information Act is incorrect. The ICO had not communicated with the University before issuing the statement and has still not completed any investigations into this matter. Media reports have been inaccurate. 

The University regrets that the ICO statement has been interpreted by some to indicate that such an investigation has already been held and is pleased to set the record straight. The existence or otherwise of prima facie evidence is insufficient to reach any conclusions about this matter. We will cooperate fully with any investigation by the ICO and will provide every assistance to the Independent Review under Sir Muir Russell as they consider these issues further. 

The publication of these letters follows the University's response to the Select Committee in which it states that 'On 22 January 2010, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) released a statement to a journalist, which was widely misinterpreted in the media as a finding by the ICO that UEA had breached Section 77 of the FOIA by withholding raw data. A subsequent letter to UEA from the ICO (29 January 2010) indicated that no breach of the law has been established; that the evidence the ICO had in mind about whether there was a breach was no more than prima facie; and that the FOI request at issue did not concern raw data but private email exchanges. 

PDFs of three letters are available:

Registrar and Secretary to Deputy Information Commissioner - 29 January 2010
Deputy Information Commissioner to Registrar and Secretary - 29 January 2010
Registrar and Secretary to Deputy Information Commissioner - 1 February 2010