Monday, January 24, 2005

New cases on the Irish Information Commissioner's website

Letter Decision:
Case 000103 - Ms. X and the Former Eastern Health Board
Case 030421 - Mr X and the Department of Finance
Case 040004 and 040005 - Mr. X and an Institute
Case 030361 and 030699 - Mr. X and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Case 030622 - Deputy Fergus O'Dowd and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

High Court Judgements
Mr. Barney Sheedy V The Information Commissioner and the Minister for Education and Science and the Irish Times Limited (First and Second Notice Parties)

Case 000103 may be of particular interest in comparison with the UK situation relating to restaraunt inpsections- Access to a report by the former Eastern Health Board of its investigation into an outbreak of salmonella amongst customers of a Take-away - whether the report was prohibited from release under an enactment not specified in the Third Schedule to the FOI Act. The Third Schedule of the FOI Act specifies certain provisions of various enactments which prohibit the release of information, but which are excluded from the application of section 32 of the FOI Act. S.I. No. 85 of 1998 is not contained in the Third Schedule to the FOI Act. She concluded that the wording of Article 12 of Council Directive 89/397/EEC, taken together with the wording of the Directive's preamble (that legitimate rights of an enterprise, such as manufacturing secrecy and the right of appeal, must be preserved) infers that the Directive's objective in this particular regard is to ensure: that inspectors do not reveal trade or manufacturing secrets to which they gain access in the course of performing the various operations that comprise control and that inspectors do not reveal information that would prejudice the right to appeal of the affected parties. Article 12 states:
1. Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that natural and legal persons concerned by the inspection have a right of appeal against measures taken by the competent authority for the purpose of inspection.
2. They shall prescribe that inspectors shall be bound by professional secrecy.

See: Official control of foodstuffs (89/397/EEC)

This Directive was implemented in GB through the Food Safety Act 1990. and through statutory Codes of Practice that guide GB enforcement authorities and which are made under that Act. Parallel legislation operates in Northern Ireland. More on FSA website

Having carried out a review under section 34(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (as amended), I hereby annul the decision of the former Eastern Health Board to refuse to release to you the final report of its investigation into the outbreak of salmonella at the [name deleted] Take-away in October 1999. Instead, I direct that the report be released in full, subject only to the deletion of the name and location of the distribution agent on page 5 of the report, the location of the egg supplier in the last paragraph of page 5 of the report, and the name and location of the same egg supplier, on page 1 of Appendix I to the report.

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