Final court ruling published in FoI battle
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A ten-month legal wrangle over the release of confidential district council documents came to a close this week, after a judge made a final ruling on the disclosure of classified relocation reports.
Wednesday’s decision comes two months after a tribunal ordered East Devon District Council (EDDC) to disclose paperwork from 2009 to 2013 relating to its move from Sidmouth.
The council spent £11,000 on legal fees in an attempt to keep the reports confidential. A final report, as well as appendices to previously published reports, will now be published. However, parts of the documents that contain commercially sensitive information will be redacted. EDDC’s deputy chief executive, Richard Cohen, said he was glad the process had now reached a ‘satisfactory conclusion’, adding: “It has never been our wish to go to a tribunal hearing and we have repeatedly tried to seek resolution in correspondence, which would have been quicker and cheaper. However, it was important that we have been able to maintain the right to protect the confidentiality of third parties, including local businesses, and legal advice.”
He added the process had ‘taken far longer than the council could ever have anticipated or have wished’.