Rynne and Department of Primary Industries
(1998 S0192, 11 January 2002)
The applicant was subject to disciplinary action following a complaint about his conduct in 1997. The applicant was provided with a full copy of the report of the DPI’s investigation, but was not given access to staff complaints, or records of interviews conducted by the investigators. The applicant sought access, under the FOI Act, to all documents relating to the investigation, but during the course of the review abandoned his claim for access to the identities of staff members interviewed, to information concerning the personal affairs of third parties, and to documents requesting or containing legal advice.
The Deputy Information Commissioner found that two documents qualified for exemption from disclosure under s.44(1) of the FOI Act, as they concerned the personal affairs of a third party, but that the balance of the matter remaining in issue was not exempt from disclosure to the applicant.
He found that the information in the documents remaining in issue had not been communicated in confidence for the purposes of s.46(1)(b) of the FOI Act. The DPI employees who gave statements wanted action taken to curtail the applicant's alleged vexatious conduct, and it was not reasonable for them to expect that they could ventilate specific concerns about the applicant's behaviour, in the context of a disciplinary investigation, on the basis that the information they supplied would be kept secret from the applicant.