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Freedom of Information Act 2000

Section 40: Personal information

144.Subsection (1) exempts, as a class, personal information relating to the applicant for the information. The right to know whether this information is held, and if so to have access to it, is covered instead by the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (as amended by Part VII of the Act). This provision, in relation to such information, confers absolute exemption for the purposes of section 2.

145.Where the information is personal information relating to a third party (that is, someone other than the applicant), it is exempt under subsection (2) if its disclosure would contravene the Data Protection Act 1998 or if the person to whom it relates would not have a right to know about it or a right of access to it under that Act (because of its exemption provisions). Personal information to which the relevant provisions of that Act do not apply is treated for these purposes as if they did. The 1998 Act prohibits the disclosure of personal information where, for example, it would be unfair, or incompatible with the purpose for which it was obtained, or where the individual who was the subject of the information had properly served notice that disclosure would cause unwarranted substantial damage or distress. This provision confers absolute exemption for the purposes of section 2 where disclosure would contravene any of the data protection principles, disregarding section 33A(1) of the DPA 1998 (which contains exemptions from the principles for manual data held by public authorities).

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