GDS and Queensland University of Technology
(2001 S0121, 7 June 2002)
As a result of concessions made during the course of this review, the only matter remaining in issue comprised two paragraphs in a statement by an employee of the University (the third party). That statement was given in support of a complaint by another employee against the applicant. As a result of the original complaint, and of information provided by the third party and several others, the applicant was under investigation for possible serious misconduct.
The original complaint and other statements, including the bulk of the third party's statement, had been provided to the applicant either before, or during the course of, the external review. Segments of the supporting statements, including the third party's, had also been included in a letter from the University to the applicant notifying him of particulars of his conduct that were to be the subject of a disciplinary investigation. The third party objected to the disclosure of the balance of her statement on the ground that the statement had been given in confidence.
The Deputy Information Commissioner decided that, having regard to the purposes for which the third party's statement was sought and given, any understanding of confidential treatment must necessarily have been conditional. Given the stage that the disciplinary proceedings against the applicant had reached, he concluded that procedural fairness required disclosure of the matter in issue to the applicant; that disclosure would therefore not be an unconscionable use by the University of the matter in issue; and that the matter in issue did not qualify for exemption under s.46(1)(a) of the FOI Act.
He also found that a small amount of matter was exempt under s.44(1) of the FOI Act, as it concerned the emotional reactions of two persons, and the third party's private address.