Judge’s FOI ruling remains a mystery

| 04/11/2013

(CNS): Although Justice Sir Allen Moses came to a decision on Friday afternoon after listening to legal arguments submitted by the governor’s legal team and that of the information commissioner behind closed doors last week, he has not yet given an order about the release of his judgment, which was also delivered away from the public gaze. Both the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the governor know what the judge has decided, but neither side can say whether or not it is in their favour. A spokesperson for the governor’s office told CNS that they have submitted a request to the judge for instructions and both parties are hopeful that they will be able to reveal the decision soon.

However, the secrecy continues around the issue, which concerns a ruling delivered by Jennifer Dilbert, the information commissioner, ordering the governor’s office to release a report that documents why a complaint made by the lead investigator on the controversial Operation Tempura internal police probe was not upheld by the governor’s office. With the ruling delivered behind closed doors and both parties still unable to discuss the matter, the document remains secret. It is not clear if the judge has ordered the report’s release and if so, whether the governor can appeal that decision, which would effectively continue to keep the lid on the report.

Significant details of the document has been disclosed, however, by the British press, which indicated that Bridger had reportedly complained about the way the investigation was terminated, among other issues, and made allegations against the local authorities and judiciary.

Although Bridger was allowed to see the review of his complaint and the reasons why it was dismissed, the document has remained secret for various reasons. When an applicant made an FOI request for it, the request was refused and subsequently the applicant appealed. Given the public interest and a host of other reasons, Dilbert ruled that the report should be released.

However, the governor filed for a judicial review of Dilbert’s decision and became the first public authority to challenge her in the court.

The legal arguments were heard before the visiting UK judge and focused heavily on the technical details of the freedom of information law and Dilbert’s interpretation, with only a short part of the hearing being conducted in public. 

Check back to CNS for updates on this story.

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  1. Slowpoke says:

    My guess is that, it will be a legal tightrope decision and neither side will be happy.

    • Anonymous says:

      My guess is that he's giving the parties time to ask that all or part of the decision be either released or kept secret pending appeal. The irony of reading the decision viva voce for 90 minutes to a closed courtroom seems to have been missed.

  2. Knot S Smart says:

    So can I do an FOI to find out what the ruling was on the FOI?