Response from Public Services Development Unit, National Archives

Response from Public Services Development Unit, National Archives

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p5foE-2yP

I have been given permission to publish the following:

Related material: The Medical Research Council’s secret files on ME/CFS: Margaret Williams

Response from Public Services Development Unit, National Archives

Received via email, 22 December 2009

Dear XXXXXXXXXX,

         Thank you for your enquiry of 17th November 2009 requesting a review of FD 23/4553/1 – Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/postviral fatigue syndrome (PFS): papers and journal articles; correspondence and enquiries with MRC replies – Closed extracts: 40 pages – 1988-1997.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you two rights of access when you write to us asking for information.  You have the right to know whether we hold the information that you are looking for, and you have the right to have the information given to you.  These rights may only be overridden if the information you are looking for is covered by an exemption in the Act.  

Unfortunately, all of the information which you are looking for is covered by exemptions. This means that we cannot give you any of the information.  We have set out details below of which exemptions we have applied and why.  

Which exemption applies?:

Section 40 exemption: this section exempts personal information about a `third party’ (that is, someone other than the enquirer), if revealing it would break the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, or if the person that the information relates to would not have a right to know about it or a right of access to it under that Act (because of its exemption provisions). The 1998 Act prevents personal information being released if, for example, it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the individual whom the information was about had properly served notice that releasing it would cause major and unnecessary damage or distress.

Why this exemption applies:

The Section 40 (2) exemption is therefore seen to be engaged towards the overwhelming majority of this file on the grounds that such is seen contain the personal sensitive data of named individuals who are believed to still be living. Whilst The National Archives is unable to comment on the specific nature of such information, it may confirm that such includes the medical details of named individuals. As such it would be considered unfair to these named parties were this material to be released into the public domain. Consequently it has been determined that the public interest is best served in this instance by ensuring that the personal sensitive information of living individuals is not released into the public domain against their reasonable expectations and that all such material is processed fairly and lawfully.

Which exemption applies?:

Section 41 exemption: this section exempts information from any other person if releasing it would mean breaking the terms of confidentiality in a way that is actionable by that or any other person.

Why this exemption applies:

Section 41 exemption: this section exempts information from any other person if releasing it would mean breaking the terms of confidentiality in a way that is actionable by that or any other person. The files contain opinions and information that was given in confidence and the release of which could be actionable.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of this letter to:

            The Quality Manager
            Public Services Development Unit
            The National Archives
            Kew, Richmond
            Surrey TW9 4DU      
            
You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your complaint. Please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning his investigation.

If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Kind regards,

(Signed on behalf of)

Freedom of Information Centre
Information Policy and Services Directorate 
The National Archives
Kew
Richmond
Surrey TW9 4DU
 
0208 876 3444 ext 2552 
Fax +44 (0)20 8487 1976

If you would like to contact us again regarding this request, please contact the helpdesk:

via e-mail:By replying to this e-mail or (020 8876 3444)

Remember to quote your call reference number: F0023328 in any correspondence, as this will assist us in providing you with a quick response.

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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