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OPSI complaint correspondence

Request for information – FOI14461

Please supply all e-mail, letter, note and recorded telephone conversations to/from Jonathan O'Meara, Ordnance Survey in connection with OPSI Complaint Report against Ordnance Survey published by OPSI on 4 April 2014.

Our response

I refer to your e-mail of 5 April 2014, requesting the information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Ordnance Survey has considered what documentation it holds in connection with the OPSI complaint published on 4 April 2014, and we are able to confirm that some information is held, and we further respond under the headings below:

Telephone conversations

Ordnance Survey does not record telephone conversations to/from any of the employees within the department in which Jonathan O’Meara works; consequently this information is not held.

Internal correspondence

We consider that any internal e-mails, letters and notes to/from Jonathan O’Meara in relation to the OPSI complaint to which your request refers, are exempt from disclosure under Section 42 (1) of the FOIA, ‘Legal Professional Privilege’.

We consider this exemption applies because Legal Professional Privilege protects confidential communications between lawyers and their clients. The client’s ability to speak freely and frankly with their legal adviser in order to obtain appropriate legal advice is a fundamental requirement of the English legal system, and this exemption protects such requirement.

The Information Commissioner advises that the generic term ‘lawyer’ in relation to this exemption means ‘a legal advisor acting in a professional capacity and includes legal executives’. Jonathan O’Meara is, for the purposes of this exemption, a legal advisor acting in a professional capacity and we are satisfied the internal information meets the requirements of being legally privileged information.

Section 42 (1) is a qualified exemption, and we are therefore required to consider the public interest.

We acknowledge that there is public interest in transparency; however this has to be balanced against the principle behind legal profession privilege which is to safeguard communications between client and lawyer to ensure access to full and frank legal advice, which is fundamental to the administration of justice.

The information which we deem legally privileged is current and topical as it relates to a report published in April 2014.

Overall, we are satisfied that there is greater public interest in withholding the information in this instance, for the above detailed reasons.

External correspondence

External e-mails, letters and notes to/from Jonathan O’Meara in relation to this request are held and are attached to this e-mail as a zip file. (Please note: this file is omitted from this published response, but available upon request).

In accordance with the Section 45 Code of Practice, we have consulted with third parties in relation to the information which we consider falls within the scope of the request, and gained third party views.

We have redacted the names of specific individuals (other than Jonathan O’Meara and Philip Highland), personal e-mail addresses and direct contact telephone numbers where we consider this information to be exempt under Section 40 (2) ‘Personal Information’. This includes some third party personal information.

Section 40 (2) (a) and (b), together with the condition under section 40 (3) (a) (i) of the FOIA, provides an absolute exemption, where the disclosure of information would contravene any of the data protection principles under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. In this case, we have exempt information constituting the personal data of living individuals, the release of which would be in breach of the Data Protection Principles.

In applying this exemption, we have considered whether disclosure of the personal data in question would be 'fair' (as described in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act). We have given particular consideration to the likely expectations of the data subjects regarding the disclosure of their personal information, whether they are already publicly referenced through their position and if they would expect to be publicly referenced in this manner, in reaching our decision to withhold this information.

Additionally, we have redacted all reference to a single third party organisation detailed in some of the external correspondence under Section 43 (2) Commercial Interests, in the context of such organisation having made an unrelated claim to OPSI.

We consider Section 43 (2) applies to this information, as the organisation could suffer commercial prejudice if the fact that it had made an unrelated complaint to OPSI were to be made public, and/or if such organisation were to be incorrectly associated with the OPSI complaint which is the subject of the OPSI Report published on 4 April 2014. In any event, the name of such organisation is not relevant to the scope of your request.

In applying this qualified exemption, we have considered that there is very little public interest in allowing the name of the organisation to be referenced, since its name has no bearing on the issues within the scope of your request.

In this instance we are satisfied that there is greater public interest in withholding the references to the organisation in question.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the FOIA. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:

FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS
E-mail: foi@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane;
E-mail: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

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