Correspondence in relation to Jersey Gas (FOI)
Correspondence in relation to Jersey Gas (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 08 September 2020.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
Please could I have a copy of all emails sent or received by any or all of Charlie Parker, Richard Corrigan and Senator Lyndon Farnham from 20 March to 29 April 2020 that mention Jersey Gas and/or Ian Plenderleith. Thank you.
Searches were undertaken on the email accounts of Charlie Parker, Richard Corrigan and Senator Lyndon Farnham for the period requested and using the key words listed.
Relevant emails are provided within the following link:
The attachments have been redacted in accordance with the Article 25 (Personal Information), Article 33 (Commercial Interests) and Article 35 (Formulation and development of policies) of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011. Duplicates, and emails that are entirely exempt, have been removed.
Article 25 Personal information
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018.
(2) Information is absolutely exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018; and
(b) its supply to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles, as defined in that Law.
(3) In determining for the purposes of this Article whether the lawfulness principle in Article 8(1)(a) of the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018 would be contravened by the disclosure of information, paragraph 5(1) of Schedule 2 to that Law (legitimate interests) is to be read as if sub-paragraph (b) (which disapplies the provision where the controller is a public authority) were omitted.
Article 25 is an absolute exemption, and therefore does not require a public interest test. However, it is noted that minimal personal information has been redacted within the emails, such redactions limited to the names and roles of less senior members of staff and certain third parties. Telephone numbers have also been redacted.
Article 33 Commercial interests
Information is qualified exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes a trade secret; or
(b) its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of a
person (including the scheduled public authority holding the information).
Prejudice / public interest test
Article 33 (b) allows an authority to refuse a request for information where its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of a person (including the scheduled public authority holding the information). Whilst we accept that the public may have an interest in the financial position of both the Government of Jersey and the Jersey Gas, we believe certain financial information is commercially sensitive as the release of this data could affect the financial position of either the Government of Jersey or Jersey Gas.
Article 35 Formulation and development of policies
Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.
Prejudice / public interest test
Public interest testThe SPA has redacted certain information within the correspondence as it relates to the formulation and development of policy and procedure by the public authority.
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test has to be undertaken to examine the circumstances of the case and decide whether, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities this information relates to an ongoing situation. The SPA – and indeed good government, requires Ministers to be provided with full, frank advice from officials about the possible impact of proposed policy, and for Ministers and officials to be able to discuss and test those proposed policies in a comprehensive way.
The following considerations were taken into account:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
• Disclosure of the information would support transparency and promote accountability to the general public, providing confirmation that the necessary discussions have taken place.
• Disclosure to the public fulfils an educative role about the early stages in policy development and illustrates how the department engages with parties for this purpose.
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information
• In order to best develop policy, Officers and Ministers need a safe space in which free and frank discussion can take place. The need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy. Sharing views is important to ensure that all relevant considerations are taken into account in developing and implementing policy. Disclosure at a time when these views are still being considered would negatively impact the Department’s ability to fully consider the information
• The need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy.
• Release of the information at this stage might generate misinformed debate in areas where future options have yet to be finalised. This would affect the ability of officials to consider and develop policy away from external pressures, and to advise Ministers appropriately.
• Disclosure of this information may limit the willingness of parties to provide their honest views and feedback in future. This would hamper and harm the policy–making process not only in relation to this subject area but in respect of future policy development across wider Departmental business.
Taking into account the various factors, the SPA decided in favour of withholding the redacted information.