Privacy Advisor

Global Privacy Dispatches- UK- Harcup v ICO

March 1, 2008

By Michael Spadea

Information Tribunal Decision Follows Durant and Not ICO Guidance

In Harcup v. Infor-mation Commissioner and Yorkshire Forward (Information Tribunal) (2008) EA/2007/0058, the Tribunal held that the names of attendees at a town sponsored event promoting business was not personal information according to the leading UK case, Durant v. FSA [2003] EWCA Civ 1746 (HL). In doing so, the Tribunal chose not to follow the ICO's guidance on what constitutes personal data.

A request was made under the Freedom of Information Act for, among other things, the names of individuals and the organizations to which they belonged, who attended events held by Yorkshire First to promote the conducting of business in the town. Yorkshire First refused to provide the information stating that under the FOIA, personal data, as defined in the Data Protection Act, did not need to be produced. The ICO affirmed. The Tribunal reversed stating, contrary to the ICO's guidance, that the names were not personal data because the focus of the request was the events and because the names by themselves were not biographically significant. The Tribunal also noted that there was not an expectation of privacy because the press was invited to some of the events.