“Council fails in appeal over FOI request and commercial prejudice”

“Hartlepool Borough Council has lost an appeal against a ruling by the Information Commissioner because it failed to provide evidence of what harm to commercial interests would be done by disclosing material dating from 2005 and relating to the transfer of ownership of Durham Tees Valley Airport.
In the First-Tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights), Judge Anisa Dhanji said neither the council nor property firm Peel had shown any convincing reason for keeping private details of the deal they did over the airport.

John Latimer had made a Freedom of Information request for papers relating to how ownership of 75% of the airport came to be transferred by the six Tees Valley local authorities to Peel.

Some information was provided but the council withheld the rest – though it later made further releases – and Latimer took his case to the Commissioner, who ruled in his favour.
Giving judgment in Hartlepool Borough Council v IC & (Dismissed : Freedom of Information Act 2000) [2018] UKFTT 2017_0057 (GRC), Judge Dhanji noted Hartlepool had not put forward any submissions or witness statements for this appeal.

She said: “It is not clear to what extent the council is still relying on prejudice to its own interests, but we entirely agree with the commissioner’s assessment…we do not find that the council has established that disclosure of the information would or would be likely to prejudice its commercial interests,”

Peel’s case asserted that disclosure could weaken its position in negotiations with potential new investors in the airport and could be used by competitors against it.

“What Peel has completely failed to do, however, is to support its assertions with evidence,” the judge said.
“There are no witness statements, and no evidence or even arguments to link the disclosure of any specific aspect of the information with any specific business interests that would or would be likely to be prejudiced by its disclosure.”

Peel had “failed to show the causal link between the disputed information and the claimed prejudice”, the tribunal concluded, ordering Hartlepool to send Latimer the information within 35 days.”


Full Judgment:

“Two-fifths of private hospitals in England are failing safety standards”

As waiting lists get longer and bed numbers get fewer, many people in East Devon are now resorting to using their savings to pay for private hospital treatment.

Maybe think twice.

“Two-fifths of private hospitals in England fail to meet expected safety standards, according to a report by health inspectors.

While most independent acute hospitals provide good quality care, inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised concerns over the safety and leadership of some services.

The regulator also said “a lack of effective oversight” of consultants with practising privileges was a “major concern”.

The issue had been “brought into sharp focus” by the case of the rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals, it added.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) said the report “exposes the poorer practices of some independent providers and underlines the need for a renewed focus on improving patient safety”.

Of the 206 independent acute hospitals inspected, 62% were given a “good” rating overall and 8% were described as “outstanding”. However, 30% of private hospitals were deemed to need improvement.

The CQC said it was particularly concerned about safety, with 41% of private hospitals rated as requiring improvement in this area and 1% as inadequate. Almost a third were rated as requiring improvement and 3% as inadequate in terms of how well they were led. …”