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Thread: The final leg of the saga of those extremely difficult to find emails and messages between former minister Frances Fitzgerald and her PR adviser Terry Prone. Special adviser's phone was "reset, wiped of data" and "recirculated" to another member of staff:
Information Commissioner says in future, public bodies are required to make sure records held in "non-official systems, email accounts, and devices" are forwarded to official communications systems as soon as practicable. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action:
Information Commissioners says that even though the original searches had turned up zero records "for reasons explained by the Department", they now accept that all efforts had been made since to find further records and that there were none:
Says that wiping of phones "seems reasonable" once an official has left a public body. However, says that records held on email accounts or messaging services need to be filed as part of record management:
Weirdly, they say I've provided "no supporting evidence" other records may have been held. Hmmm, I don't know - the fact original decision said there were zero, and that only after I forced the issue, it turned out that there were more than 200. Is that not supporting evidence?
Access to a separate set of thirty records has also been refused on the basis that they are the "private papers" of Frances Fitzgerald. This is the famous "private papers" rule that has also been used to withhold access to details of the expenses incurred by TDs & Senators:
Information Commissioner says they are satisfied that Ms Fitzgerald has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" relating to these thirty records. Says that officeholders like ministers also have an in tandem role as a public representative:
The final decision. This case was taken through @RightToKnowIE. For more on what we do, visit: Full link will be posted when the decision goes up online:
Just to go back to the "supporting evidence" point, I really wonder how on earth a requester is expected to supply that. How am I supposed to have access to internal emails or messaging services used by ministers & officials of Dept of Justice??? That's what we rely on FOI for.
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