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Thursday, April 13, 2006

ADT decision: released documents - once they're gone, they're gone

This interim decision (Retain Beacon Hill High School Committee Inc. v Landcom (2006) NSWADT 108) confirms that once a document is released under FOI, there isn't much the agency or the ADT can do to get it back.

Landcom, having processed 5575 pages of documents in the course of processing the application [para.10] released in error 2 documents which it mistakenly thought were covered by an agreement reached during an ADT planning conference to disclose certain documents.

The Tribunal decided it had no powers under the Administrative Decisions Tribunal or FOI Acts to require the return of the documents.

It also denied an application for an order which would preserve the confidentiality of the proposed purchase price of the school site which had been revealed in the two documents inadvertently released. The Tribunal said that this information was in the public domain as it had been revealed in a press release by Dr. Chesterfield-Evans MLC in January this year and in a subsequent article in the Daily Telegraph.

Not too many FOI co-ordinators would be throwing stones about this one - 5000 odd pages (the ADT is still to decide the status of some documents) and 2 slip through the net!

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