Dear Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland),

I would be grateful if you could advise if any of your ALB's or NDPB's have been affected by the 16th May 2019 judgement of Madam Justice McBride, whereupon it was found that for certain decisions the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland had no power to delegate responsibility to discharge statutory powers to staff.
If any have been affected, I would ask that you;
(i) list the names of NPDBs or ALBs affected
(ii) what changes if any have been made to those NDPBs or ALBs affected, and the date these changes were implemented.
(iii) if none were affected, please state so.

Yours faithfully,

Trevor McKee

ProbityaacNI

Oliver, Michael, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland)

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Dear Mr McKee,

 

Thank you for your request for information regarding Madam Justice
McBride’s ruling in respect of the Charity Commission NI.  Having
considered your request we have decided that it should be treated as
normal business. 

 

With regard to your queries at points i-iii we can advise that the
Departmental Solicitors Office is currently considering the wider
implications of the judgement on our ALBs/NDPBs. This work is ongoing and
it is therefore not possible at this stage to determine the extent of the
effect or the bodies which may have to respond to the judgement.

 

Once this information is gathered legal advice will be sought on the
implications for DAERA and our ALBs/NDPBs and it is therefore likely that
it could be exempted from disclosure under section 42 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, if requested.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

DAERA Private Office

 

Private Office DAERA <[email address]>

 

 

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Dear Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland),

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland)'s handling of my FOI request 'Affected Bodies'.

Thank you for your response. I understand that Section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is a qualified exemption subject to a public interest test, and that it is not immediately evident from what you have stated so far how it might potentially apply. However I can deal with that in the fullness of time if it becomes relevant.

What is immediately relevant is the research the DSO is undertaking, and the length of time that has passed since this purported risk first became apparent.
As you know the DFC became a third party intervener in the matter ruled on by Madam Justice McBride citing the reason you have given on the 29th November 2017.
The research into the departments and presumable DAERA's NDPB's was completed for that litigation and no risk was found to exist. In any event, the research necessary could be conducted and completed in one day, it is a reasonably straightforward process, requiring little skill or knowledge.

For example, in the Libraries Board subject to the "Libraries Act (Northern Ireland) 2008" and contained within article 9 (1) of schedule 1 to that act (reproduced below), we can see that there is a power of delegation to staff.

"Delegation to committees and staff
9—(1) The Authority may, to such extent as it may determine, delegate any of its functions to—
(a)
any committee of the Authority;
(b)
any employee of the Authority.
(2) Any committee of the Authority may, to such extent as the committee may determine, delegate any functions of the committee to any employee of the Authority."

It would appear that there is no further body of research to conduct, it has all been completed within the litigation completed on the 16th May. It appears that there are no other bodies affected by the decision of the High Court, and no other NDPB's acting outside of their powers.
If this is the case, then any exemption applied to releasing the information would attract a strong public interest challenge sufficient to warrant disclosure of the information, simply because of the vast amounts of public money being invested in seemingly frivolous litigation by the DFC.
In addition, I would also respectfully advise that if requests and exchanges are continuing within the departments NDPB's and other Government departments and their NDPB's, then I submit the information cannot lawfully be described as privileged.

I am content for you to treat this request as a normal line of business inquiry, in which case section 42 will not apply in any event.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

Trevor McKee

ProbityaacNI

Oliver, Michael, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland)

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Dear Mr McKee,
>
Thank you for your email and confirmation that you are content for this
request to be treated as normal business.  Please note as normal business,
and not a FOI request, this and the previous response would not be subject
to an internal review. 
>
In your original request you sought information about the impact of Madam
Justice McBride’s judgement on DAERA ALBs specifically you asked that we:
>
(i) list the names of NPDBs or ALBs affected
>
(ii) what changes if any have been made to those NDPBs or ALBs affected,
and the date these changes were implemented.
>
(iii) if none were affected, please state so.
>
In our response we provided you with the most up to date information on
the matter i.e. it is being considered by the Departmental Solicitor’s
Office (DSO) and at this stage it has not been confirmed to DAERA which,
if any, of our NDPBs/ALBs are impacted or what this impact would entail. 
>
Please note that in respect of the Section 42 exemption to which we
previously referred this was neither applicable to this current request as
it was treated as normal business, nor was it applied to the previous
response provided. The reference to Section 42 was provided only to give
some guidance on how it may be engaged should a future request be made
seeking recorded information when the DSO’s considerations have been
concluded and received by the Department.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

DAERA Private Office

 

Private Office DAERA <[1][email address]>

 

 

 

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