The National Archives The Duchy of Cornwall and Freedom of Information Act 2000
The experience of one researcher
I am a post graduate student at the University of Plymouth who has just submitted a thesis for consideration entitled “The Duchy of Cornwall – A Feudal Remnant?” As part of my investigations I spent a great deal of time exploring The National Archives (TNA) records maintained at Kew. I came across a closed file “IR 40/16619 – Liability of the Duchy of Cornwall to tax: covering dates 1960-62”. The tax status of the Duchy of Cornwall was one focus on my research so I requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) that the file be opened.
The Initial Request
I sent my request for the closed file to be opened on 16
February 2010. TNA advised me on 30
March 2010 that the file was exempt from disclosure under FOIA sections 40(2) (personal data) and 41 (information provided in confidence). I asked on 10
April 2010 for an internal review and received a response on 19
August 2010 in which the original decision was confirmed. FOIA section 10 provides a reply should be sent by the public authority within 20 working days. It will be observed that the TNA replies exceeded the statutory provisions.
I would note that I have made a large number of requests to various public authorities in connection with my thesis and, with the exception of Her Majesties Revenues and Customs (HMRC), in no case have I received a response within the statutorily prescribed limits.
I complained to the Information Commissioner (ICO) on 4
September 2010 about the way my request had been handled. Eleven months later, on 26