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Correspondence with Private Eye

FOI14607 – Request for information


Thank you for your email of 12 November 2015, requesting the following information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):

“Between 3 September 2015 and today's date, all correspondence of any form between Ordnance Survey and Private Eye &/or lawyers concerning all matters associated to the publication of the Private Eye’s website on the subject of the Foreign ownership of property in England and Wales from 2005-2014.

Please can you also include all the associated correspondence on this subject with the Land Registry for the same dates.”

Our response

We can confirm that we do hold this information. However, we will not be providing such information, as it falls under a number of exemptions within the FOIA; the relevant sections and reasons are detailed below.

i) Section 31(1)(g) - The information is exempt from disclosure under section 31(1), since disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice the exercise by OS of our functions for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply with the law or is responsible for any conduct which is improper.

In investigating such matters, there is a reasonable expectation that communications will be conducted on a confidential basis; if it were found that such communications were subject to disclosure under the FOIA, it is likely that third party organisations would be less willing to assist OS in such investigations, or to be less cooperative.

ii) Section 43(2) (commercial interests) – The information is, in addition, exempt from disclosure under section 43(2), as release of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice OS’s commercial interests, for similar reasons as referred to above.

Sections 31(1) and 43(2) are qualified exemptions and we are required to consider the public interest.

Ordnance Survey is a wholly owned Government company; like other companies, it is required to generate revenue from its commercial activities in order to fund its operations (including, in OS’s case, its public task).

We do recognise the requirement for transparency, but this has to be balanced against the public interest in allowing OS to be able to (i) protect Crown and OS copyright and database rights in accordance with its obligations to the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, and (ii) protect its commercial interests (so that it is not disadvantaged in comparison to organisations which are not subject to the FOIA) such that it can continue to fulfil its public task and deliver its obligation to HM Government to operate on a commercial, self-financing basis.

Consequently, we are satisfied that the public interest is best served by withholding the information under these exemptions.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. 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

Email: foi@os.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

Email: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

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

Thank you for your enquiry.

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