Media & Entertainment Law – Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Data Protection – Public Body
The British Broadcasting Corporation / Sugar and Others (on request) British Broadcasting Corporation / The Information Tribunal and Others (2007) Freedom of Information Act 2000 cases.
The plaintiff in the case, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), asked B. for advice on covering issues in the Middle East for the BBC. In 2004, B., who was an experienced journalist, wrote an internal written report on the subject. The report was referred to the BBC Journalism Council for consideration. Subsequently, a commission was subsequently appointed in 2005 to conduct an external and independent review of the BBC’s reporting of cases in the Middle East. This second report was never published.
Respondent S wanted to see the second report. He believed that he had access to it under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 2000 Act). He therefore made a written request to the BBC, stating that the report had had a direct impact on the BBC’s coverage of major world events and that the 2000 law did not apply to them. S. was not satisfied with this response and subsequently filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner.
The Commissioner actively corresponded with S and separately with the BBC. In a detailed letter, the Commissioner expressed his preliminary view that the report was kept for journalistic, artistic or literary purposes and that in such circumstances the BBC was not considered a public body under the 2000 Act on Claim S, and therefore there was no obligation to disclose the contents of the report.
S. declined to comment further to the Commissioner, who confirmed his final decision that the report could not be made public, thereby notifying S. of his right to seek judicial review of the decision. S. appealed to the Information Tribunal under the provisions of Article 50 of the 2000 Act.
that S. did not invoke Article 50;
The Commissioner did not notify of a decision that could be appealed; And
That the court was not competent to hear such an appeal.
The Tribunal believed that it did have the power to hear an appeal. The Commissioner settled the jurisdictional dispute. The Court held that it had jurisdiction to hear S.’s appeal and therefore proceeded to consider it. It ruled that at the time S. requested a copy of the report, the report was kept for purposes other than journalism, art or literature.
The BBC subsequently appealed the jurisdictional decision and the journalists’ decision, and in order to allow any alleged lack of jurisdiction, the BBC attempted to challenge the court’s decisions through a simultaneous judicial review.
S initiated in due course its own judicial review procedure for the auditor’s original decision. It was alleged that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the alleged appeal and that the trial of S. was to seek a judicial review of the Commissioner’s original decision. Furthermore, it was argued that, despite the initial impression that could be removed from Subsection 3 (1) and Annex 1 of the Act 2000, subsection 7 (1) showed that it was related to the application of Parts I – V information, rather than describing the circumstances under which an organization should or should not be considered a “public institution”.
Article 3 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states that this material:
(1) In this Act, “public institution” means:
(a) In the light of article 4 (4), any person, person or accused incumbent who:
(i) is listed in Appendix 1, or
(ii) appointed by article 5, or
(b) a public company in the meaning of Section 6.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, information is stored in a public institution if:
(a) it belongs to the authorities, except on behalf of another person, or
(b) it belongs to another person on behalf of the Office.
Article 7 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides for material:
(1) If a public authority is listed in Annex 1 only for information with this description, nothing in parts I to V of this Act applies to any other information available to the Office.
(2) In the injunction under subsection 4 (1) when a record is added to Annex 1, only a government authority may be mentioned in relation to information with the specified description.
Article 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides for material:
(1) Any person (“the plaintiff”) may file a request to the public auditor to decide whether a request for information from the plaintiff to the public authority has been processed in a particular respect, in accordance with the requirements of Part I. .
(2) After receiving the request under this article, the Commissioner decides if he does not think:
(a) The complainant has not complied with any complaint procedure provided by the public authority in accordance with the code of rules under section 45,
(b) There was an unjustified delay in filing a request,
(c) The request is unreasonable or vexing, or
d) The application has been withdrawn or rejected.
(3) If the Commissioner has received a request under this article, he must:
(a) Notify the complainant that he has not made a decision in accordance with the on-demand section and the reasons why he did not, or
b) inform the plaintiff and the public body of their decision (“notification of decision”).
Article 57 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states that this material:
(1) Once a notice of decision has been issued, the plaintiff or the public authority may appeal the notice to the Tribunal.
(2) The State body to which the Commissioner has been given a notice of information or notice of execution may appeal against the notice to the Tribunal.
(3) With regard to a decision or executive act regarding:
(a) The information to which Article 66 is applied and
(b) Subsections (1) and (2) depending on whether the reference to a public body was a reference to a public body or a responsible body, depending on whether the reference to a public body was a reference to a public body or a responsible body, on the matter, depending on whether the reference to a public body was a reference to a public body or a responsible body.
Annex 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 contains a list of government organizations. Most of those listed in Part VI Of Appendix 1 are mentioned by name, but some are not, and one of these agencies is the BBC. The BBC’s Entry in Part VI App 1 reads:
“The British Broadcasting Corporation with regard to information stored for purposes other than journalism, art or literature.”
The appeal was granted for the following reasons:
As for the requirements of parts from the I to V Act 2000, the BBC was considered a public body only in respect of the information it stores for purposes other than journalistic, artistic or literary. The applicable sections of the 2000 Act, namely subsection 3 (1) and subsection 7 (1) taken together with Annex 1, were different. These sections specify which bodies should be considered as public bodies for certain types of information. The sections do not allege that the BBC was for all intents and purposes under the State Agency’s 2000 Act on all the information they had.
The structure of the 2000 Act is such that some of the commissioner’s decisions cannot be appealed to the court. It can be concluded from the wording and structure of the 2000 Act that any intention to appeal the decision rests with the Tribunal when the Commissioner decides whether The requirements of Part I have been met by the court, the public body and when the decision has been notified. If the auditor has decided that there are circumstances in section 7 (1) of the 2000 Act, section 50 (3) (b) will not be notified of the decision that the auditor could designate. Consequently, an appeal cannot be filed with the court. The appeal was heard in court. Looking at the terms of Sections 3, 7 and Appendix 1 of the 2000 Act, the court had no right of appeal.
The question of whether the information was “preserved for purposes other than journalistic” was ultimately decided by the Commissioner, depending on the circumstances of each individual case. His decision was not subject to judicial review.