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Weekly hails ‘good day’ for FoI after government U-turn

A weekly newspaper has hailed a “good day for Freedom of Information” after a government U-turn over one of its requests.

The Isle of Man Examiner had been trying to obtain a report into a “runaway tram” accident on the island in March 2016, when an unmanned vintage tram crashed on a mountain.

But the island’s Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture rejected the Examiner’s FoI request on the issue, claiming that “significant harm would be caused to the reputation” of the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate if the full report were to be released.

However, an internal review into the request has now found in the newspaper’s favour.


It concluded that an exemption was wrongly applied and too much weight had been given to concerns about setting a precedent and hindering future health and safety investigations.

The U-turn provided a splash for the Examiner this week.

The review states: “In the initial response there appears to be a degree of concern that in releasing the information requested a precedent would have been set; and that other reports might then need to be released if requested.

“On balance there is no meaningful public interest argument against disclosure. In fact what may well have happened is that the department has allowed its concerns about precedent and what, in other cases, it might need to release, to influence its judgement in these particular circumstances.”