FOI - Public Interest Test Extension

FOI - Public Interest Test Extension

/ Laurence Fiddler
Human Rights and Security Policy
Post Point 6.18, Sixth Floor
102 Petty France
T 020 3334 2563
F 020 3334 3744
Mr Richard Greenhill
sent by email to:

Our Reference: 93609 / 27 October 2014

Freedom of Information Request

Dear Mr Greenhill

Thank you for your email of 30 September 2014, in which you made the following request for information to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

"@MoJGovUK Please disclose your prisoner voting submissions (or speaking notes if unwritten) to CoE/DH/Committee of Ministers this week. #FOI" - 4:20 PM - 26 Sep 2014
The ICO has stated that requests made via Twitter are valid:

Accordingly, I trust that you can respond within 20 working days of 26 September.
However, as requested by your Twitter direct message this afternoon, please use this WhatDoTheyKnow email address for mutually convenient further communication.
The context of the request is the meeting of Lord Faulks QC with the DH Committee on 25 September regarding execution of the Hirst No 2 and Greens & MT ECtHR judgments, as referred to here:

This request followed up an earlier request that you had made via Twitter on 26 September 2014. Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I can confirm that the department holds the information you have asked for, and it may be subject to a qualified exemption.

In this case, the information you are seeking may be exempt under section 27(1)(b) as it relates to relations between the United Kingdom and any international organisation or international court.

In line with the terms of this exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, we have to consider whether it would be in the public interest for us to provide you with the information requested. However, we have not yet reached a decision on the balance of the public interest in this case.

Under Section 10(3) of the Act, we are able to extend the statutory time limit of 20 working days where the information held may be exempt under a qualified exemption, and we require more time to consider the balance of the public interest when deciding whether to disclose the information or not.

I consider that it will take an additional 13 working days in order to reach a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies and we plan to provide you with a response by 13 November 2014.

You can find out more about Section 10(3) by reading the extract from the Act and some guidance points we consider when applying this exemption, attached at the end of this letter.

You can also find more information by reading the full text of the Act (available at and further guidance

You have the right to appeal our decision if you think it is incorrect. Details of how you can do so are set out below.

Yours sincerely

Laurence Fiddler

How to Appeal

Internal Review

If you are not satisfied with this response, you have the right to an internal review. The handling of your request will be looked at by someone who was not responsible for the original case, and they will make a decision as to whether we answered your request correctly.

If you would like to request a review, please write or send an email to the Data Access and Compliance Unit within two months of the data of this letter, at the

following address:

Data Access and Compliance Unit (10.34),

Information & Communications Directorate,

Ministry of Justice,

102 Petty France,




Information Commissioner’s Office

If you remain dissatisfied after an internal review decision, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Commissioner is an independent regulator who has the power to direct us to respond to your request differently, if he considers that we have handled it incorrectly.

You can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at the following address:

Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House,

Water Lane,




Internet address:


We have provided below additional information about Section 10(3) of the Freedom of Information Act. We have included some extracts from the legislation, as well as some of the guidance we use when applying it. We hope you find this information useful.

The legislation

Section 1: Right of Access to information held by public authorities

(1) Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled—

(a)to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and

(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.

Section 10: Time for compliance with request.

(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a public authority must comply with section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.

(2) Where the authority has given a fees notice to the applicant and the fee is paid in accordance with section 9(2), the working days in the period beginning with the day on which the fees notice is given to the applicant and ending with the day on which the fee is received by the authority are to be disregarded in calculating for the purposes of subsection (1) the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.

(3) If, and to the extent that—

(a)section 1(1)(a) would not apply if the condition in section 2(1)(b) were satisfied, or

(b)section 1(1)(b) would not apply if the condition in section 2(2)(b) were satisfied,

the public authority need not comply with section 1(1)(a) or (b) until such time as is reasonable in the circumstances; but this subsection does not affect the time by which any notice under section 17(1) must be given.

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that subsections (1) and (2) are to have effect as if any reference to the twentieth working day following the date of receipt were a reference to such other day, not later than the sixtieth working day following the date of receipt, as may be specified in, or determined in accordance with, the regulations.

(5) Regulations under subsection (4) may—

(a) prescribe different days in relation to different cases, and

(b) confer a discretion on the Commissioner.

(6) In this section—

“the date of receipt” means—

(a)the day on which the public authority receives the request for information, or

(b)if later, the day on which it receives the information referred to in section 1(3);

“working day” means any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday under the M1Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in any part of the United Kingdom.


The Act makes specific procedural provision for the handling of cases which require an assessment of the balance of the public interest to be made. Under section 10(1) of the Act, there is a general time limit of 20 working days for making a response to a request for information. However, section 10(3) permits a public authority to take an additional, though 'reasonable', period of time to reach its final decision in those cases where a 'qualified' exemption is engaged and the balance of the public interest must be assessed.

The department must, however, tell the applicant within the initial 20-day period which exemption or exemptions it believes apply to the information requested, and give an estimate of the date by which the decision will have been made. Such extensions should generally avoid exceeding 20 working days. Where you wish to rely on section 36, a 'qualified person' must form the 'reasonable opinion' that the exemption applies.