Disclosure Details

Legal Proceedings Against Northumbria Police - 373/12

Dated: 07 Jun 2011

Date of request:  16/04/2012

Date of response:  27/04/2012

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)

Thank you for your email dated 16th April 2012 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked: 

I have read that Martin McGartland has began ‘legal proceedings’ against Northumbria Police, "You will be aware that I have begun legal proceedings (on or around 30th March 2012) against Northumbria Police relating to both the cover-up of my 1999 shooting and also because of Misfeasance in public office." {http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/martin_mcgartland_notification_f#outgoing-194026}

I am requesting all recorded information you hold concerning the above and also the following,

  1. Has Martin McGartland began ‘legal proceedings’ against Northumbria Police?

  2. If ‘legal proceedings’ have began please supply reasons and grounds.

  3. Have Northumbria Police informed Home Office about the ‘legal proceedings’. If so, why?

  4. Is this the first and only time Martin McGartland has taken ‘legal proceedings’ against Northumbria Police? If not, please supply details of any other cases including outcome of such cases.

In response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities.  Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held.  The second duty at a1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held.  Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) state (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

Northumbria Police can neither confirm not deny that it holds the information relevant to your request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemption:-

Section 40 (5) Personal Information

The duty to confirm or deny:-

(a) does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were held by the public authority would be) exempt information by virtue of subsection (1), and (b) does not arise in relation to other information if or to the extent that either -
(i) the giving to a member of the public of the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply with Section 1(1)(a) would (apart from this Act) contravene any of the data protection principles or Section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 or would do so if the exemptions in Section 33A (1) of that Act were disregarded, or
(ii) by virtue of any provision of Part IV of the Data Protection Act 1998 the information is exempt from Section 7(1)(a) of that Act (data subject's right to be informed whether personal data being processed).

When citing Section 40 (5) there is a requirement to articulate the public interest to ensure that neither confirming nor denying that information exists is the appropriate response.  I have set this out below.

Public Interest Test:-

The Police Service will not disclose whether it is subject to legal proceedings, or whether legal proceedings are taking place, unless that information has already been placed in the public domain, through channels such as the media or the court process rather than a comment made by an individual.

A disclosure under Freedom of Information is a release of information to the world in general and not an individual applicant.  Therefore, simply confirming or not that such information, if any, were held would disclose personal information about an individual.  The Police Service will not confirm to the world in general whether or not an individual is involved in legal proceedings.

This should not be taken as an inference that the information you have requested, does or does not exist.

You should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for your request.

The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police.  Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation.  In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.

How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.


FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-28029