A report from the Times Newspaper (Kennedy) made a request to the Charity Commission under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for documents held by it relating to three inquiries that the Commission held into the “Mariam Appeal” (i.e. George Galloway’s appeal for money for Iraqi children suffering from leukaemia). The Charity Commission claimed blanket exemption under s.32(2) of the FOIA. It also relied on other exemptions for certain documents. The Tribunal upheld the blanket application of s.32(2). It also claimed exemption under various other provisions. The Information Commissioner rejected Kennedy’s complaint and he appealed to the Tribunal.
Held: Appeal largely dismissed. The Tribunal said that “all or most documents…used in a statutory inquiry would be exempt from disclosure for 30 years” . Those documents will be exempt from disclosure regardless of how pressing the public interest is in seeing those documents, regardless of whether they reveal iniquity and regardless of whether their disclosure is harmless to a legitimate interest. It is this that gives the decision a wider and enduring significance for The Times.