Case number: OIC-93027-R0N4V6
27 July 2020
In a request dated 13 March 2020, the applicant sought access to all documents in a named prosecution case file concerning her. In a decision dated 9 April 2020, the DPP refused the applicant’s request under section 42(f) of the FOI Act on the basis that records concerning criminal case files are not accessible under the Act. On 14 April 2020, the applicant sought an internal review of that decision, following which the DPP affirmed its original decision. On 25 June 2020, the applicant sought a review by this Office of the DPP’s decision.
I have now completed my review in this case. In conducting my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the DPP and the applicant outlined above and to correspondence between this Office and both the DPP and the applicant on the matter.
This review is solely concerned with whether the DPP was justified in refusing access to records in its prosecution case file concerning the applicant under section 42(f) of the FOI Act.
In her application for review, the applicant explained the background for requesting the file relating to her prosecution. I should explain that section 13(4) of the Act provides that in deciding whether to grant or refuse a request, any reason that the requester gives for the request shall be disregarded. This means that this Office cannot have regard to the applicant's motives for seeking access to the information in question, except in so far as those motives reflect what might be regarded as public interest factors in favour of release of the information where the Act requires a consideration of the public interest (not relevant in this case).
The applicant also refers to a Circuit Court direction that she is entitled to the files relating to her case. Our role in this review is confined to considering whether the decision taken by DPP in respect of the applicant’s FOI request is in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act.
Section 42(f) provides that the Act does not apply to a record held or created by the DPP, other than a record relating to general administration. In its submission to this Office, the DPP stated that the records sought are contained in an individual file held for the purposes of making a prosecutorial decision. It argued that an individual prosecution file cannot be considered to be a record relating to the general administration of the Office of the DPP.
While the Act is silent on the meaning of general administration, this Office considers that it clearly refers to records which have to do with the management of the DPP, such as records relating to personnel, pay matters, recruitment, accounts, information technology, accommodation, internal organisation, office procedures and the like. It does not refer to records relating to matters concerning the core business of the DPP.
In this case, I am satisfied that the records sought do not relate to general administration. I find, therefore, that the Act does not apply to the records sought, pursuant to the provisions of section 42(f), and that the DPP was justified in refusing the applicant’s request.
Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the FOI Act, I hereby affirm the decision of the DPP in this case.
Section 24 of the FOI Act sets out detailed provisions for an appeal to the High Court by a party to a review, or any other person affected by the decision. In summary, such an appeal, normally on a point of law, must be initiated not later than four weeks after notice of the decision was given to the person bringing the appeal.