Department of Health, Regina (on The Application of) v Information Commissioner: Admn 20 Apr 2011

The department appealed against an order requiring it to disclose statistical information about late abortions. The department argued that the numbers involved were such that the individual patients involved mighty be identified, and that therefore the information constituted personal data and was exempt under section 40 of the 2000 Act. The claimant had altered its practice to follow guidelines published by the Office for National Statistics. Though there had been occasional attempts to identify the doctors and patients involved, the risks were thought to be low.
Held: The decision to order the disclosure of the information was correct. The Tribunal had been in error in holding the requested information to be personal data. The court traced where the Data Protection and Freedom of Information laws met and used similar definitions. The fact that the Department had other information which could be added to the data to identify subjects did not make this personal data. The consequences of the identification of a patient could indeed be disatrous, but the tribunal had been entitled to conclude that the risk was extremely remote.

Cranston J
[2011] EWHC 1430 (Admin)
Freedom of Information Act 2000 1(1) 40, Abortion Act 1967 1(1), Data Protection Act 1998 7(1)(c), European Council Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data
England and Wales
CitedCorporate Officer of the House of Commons v The Information Commissioner and others Admn 16-May-2008
Applicants had sought disclosure of information supplied by members of Parliament in support of expenses claims. The Office appealed against an order from the Commissioner to produce that information, saying that the actions of Parliament are not . .
CitedDepartment of Health v Information Commissioner (Freedom of Information Act 2000) FTTGRC 15-Oct-2009
The Department had altered the way it reported the incidence of late abortions so as to protect the identities of those involved. It said that the numbers were so small that any detail could lead to identification.
Held: (1) The disputed . .
CitedCommon Services Agency v Scottish Information Commissioner HL 9-Jul-2008
An MP had asked the Agency under the 2002 Act for details of all incidents of childhood leukaemia for both sexes by year from 1990 to 2003 for all the DG (Dumfries and Galloway) postal area by census ward. The Agency replied by saying that the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Information, Health Professions

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.440859