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Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019

Changes over time for: Cross Heading: Disclosure

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DisclosureE+W

69Disclosure of informationE+W

(1)The information to which this section applies is—

(a)information obtained by the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or another person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of the Ombudsman's functions—

(i)in deciding whether to begin an investigation,

(ii)in the course of an investigation,

(iii)in resolving a matter under section 6 or 46, or

(iv)in connection with a notification received under section 26 or 57;

(b)information obtained from an ombudsman mentioned in section 65(7) by virtue of any provision of section 65 or a corresponding provision in an enactment relating to any of those ombudsmen;

(c)information obtained from a specified person in section 66(2) by virtue of any provision of section 66 or 67 or a corresponding provision in an enactment relating to any of those specified persons;

(d)information obtained from the Auditor General for Wales by virtue of section 68 of this Act or section 29A of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013 (anaw 3);

(e)information obtained from the Information Commissioner by virtue of section 76 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c.36) (disclosure between Information Commissioner and ombudsmen).

(2)The information must not be disclosed except—

(a)for the purposes of deciding whether to begin an investigation;

(b)for the purposes of an investigation;

(c)for the purpose of any function of the Auditor General for Wales;

(d)for the purposes of resolving a complaint under section 6 or 46;

(e)for the purposes of a statement or report made in relation to a complaint or investigation;

(f)for the purposes of any provision of section 65, 66, 67 or 68;

(g)for the purposes of proceedings for—

(i)an offence under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 (c.28) to 1989 (c.6) alleged to have been committed by the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or other person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of any of the Ombudsman's functions;

(ii)an offence of perjury alleged to have been committed in the course of an investigation;

(h)for the purposes of an inquiry with a view to the taking of proceedings mentioned in paragraph (g);

(i)for the purpose of proceedings under section 20 or 54;

(j)in the case of information to the effect that a person is likely to constitute a threat to the health or safety of one or more persons, to any person to whom the Ombudsman thinks it should be disclosed in the public interest;

(k)in the case of information to which subsection (3) applies, to the Information Commissioner;

(l)for the purposes of the Ombudsman's functions under Chapters 3 and 4 of Part 3 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c.22).

(3)This subsection applies to information if it appears to the Ombudsman to relate to—

(a)a matter in respect of which the Information Commissioner could exercise a power conferred by an enactment mentioned in subsection (4), or

(b)the commission of an offence mentioned in subsection (6).

(4)The enactments are—

(a)sections 142 to 154, 160 to 164 or 174 to 176 of, or Schedule 15 to, the Data Protection Act 2018 (c.12) (certain provisions relating to enforcement);

(b)section 48 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c.36) (practice recommendations);

(c)Part 4 of that Act.

(5)Subsection (4)(a) has effect as if the matters to which it refers include a matter in respect of which the Information Commissioner could exercise a power conferred by a provision of Part 5 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (c.29), as it has effect by virtue of Schedule 20 to the Data Protection Act 2018 (c.12).

(6)The offences are those under—

(a)a provision of the Data Protection Act 2018 (c.12) other than paragraph 15 of Schedule 15 to that Act (obstruction of execution of warrant etc);

(b)section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c.36) (offence of altering etc records with intent to prevent disclosure).

(7)No person may be called upon to give evidence in any proceedings (other than proceedings mentioned in subsection (2)) of information obtained by that person as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b).

70Disclosure prejudicial to safety of State or contrary to public interestE+W

(1)A Minister of the Crown may give notice to the Ombudsman with respect to—

(a)any document or information specified in the notice, or

(b)any class of document or information so specified,

that, in the opinion of the Minister, the disclosure of that document or information, or of documents or information of that class, would be prejudicial to the safety of the State or otherwise contrary to the public interest.

(2)If a notice is given under subsection (1), nothing in this Act is to be construed as authorising or requiring the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or another person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of the Ombudsman's functions to disclose to any person or for any purpose any document or information, or class of document or information, specified in the notice.

71Protection from defamation claimsE+W

(1)For the purposes of the law of defamation, the following are absolutely privileged—

(a)the publication of a matter, in the discharge of any of the Ombudsman's functions under this Act, by the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or another person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of any of the Ombudsman' functions;

(b)the publication of a matter by a person in the discharge of functions under—

(i)section 24;

(ii)section 24 as modified by section 25;

(iii)sections 24 and 25 as they apply to special reports (see section 29(6));

(c)the publication of a matter in connection with a complaint or an investigation, in communications between—

(i)a listed authority, a member or co-opted member of a listed authority, an officer or member of the staff of a listed authority or another person acting on behalf of a listed authority or assisting it in the discharge of any of its functions, and

(ii)the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or another person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of any of the Ombudsman's functions;

(d)the publication of a matter in connection with a complaint or an investigation, in communications between—

(i)a care home provider, domiciliary care provider or independent palliative care provider, an officer or member of staff of such a provider or another person acting on behalf of such a provider or assisting it in the discharge of any of its functions, and

(ii)the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or another person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of any of the Ombudsman's functions;

(e)the publication of a matter in connection with a complaint or an investigation, in communications between a person and an Assembly member;

(f)the publication of a matter in connection with a complaint made or referred (or to be made or referred) by or on behalf of a person to the Ombudsman under this Act, in communications between—

(i)the person, and

(ii)the Ombudsman, a member of the Ombudsman's staff or another person acting on the Ombudsman's behalf or assisting the Ombudsman in the discharge of any of the Ombudsman's functions.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(d)(i) a person is an officer of a provider if the person has control or management of a provider which is not an individual or the affairs of such a provider.

(3)In this section, reference to matters in connection with an investigation include matters in connection with the Ombudsman's decision whether to investigate or not.

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