Tribunal Upholds Decision on Disclosure of Personal Data Under Environmental Information Regulations

Citation: [2024] UKFTT 22 (GRC)
Judgment on


In the case of Darbari Rachhpaul Singh Bedi v Information Commissioner ([2024] UKFTT 00022 (GRC)), an appellant challenged the decision made by the Information Commissioner regarding the withholding of certain information by the London Borough of Ealing under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“EIR”). This article analyses the Tribunal’s decision, highlighting the legal principles applied in relation to requests for information, especially where personal data is concerned.

Key Facts

The appellant sought to obtain various pieces of information from the Council related to a Penalty Charge Notice, invoking the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Council responded under the EIR but withheld information under regulation 13(1) EIR, citing the non-disclosure of personal data where it would contravene data protection principles. The main contentious points revolved around the Council’s refusal to disclose certain employees’ names and personal addresses.

Several legal principles and statutory regulations fashioned the Tribunal’s decision-making process, which are fundamental in the UK’s information rights landscape. These include:

  1. Environmental Information Regulations 2004: These regulations govern access to environmental information held by public authorities. The Tribunal confirmed that the request, originally made under FOIA, actually fell within the remit of the EIR.

  2. Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR: Data protection laws define personal data and set out principles for its lawful processing. The lawful processing includes considerations of legitimate interest, necessity, and balance against the rights and freedoms of the data subjects.

  3. Legitimate interest: A data controller or third party must show that they are pursuing a legitimate interest in the information sought.

  4. Necessity of processing: The processing (which includes disclosure) must be necessary for the legitimate interests pursued, rather than just desirable.

  5. Balancing interests: The interests pursued must not be overridden by the rights and freedoms of the data subject requiring protection, particularly considering the expectations and potential harm or distress to the data subjects.

The Tribunal also touched upon the principles of transparency, accountability, and necessity, referencing case law such as South Lanarkshire Council v Scottish Information Commissioner ([2013] UKSC 55) and Goldsmith International Business School v Information Commissioner and the Home Office ([2014] UKUT 563 (AAC)), to provide a framework for its analysis.


The Tribunal systematically applied the above principles to the appellant’s individual requests and the Information Commissioner’s stance:

  • Questions 13, 18, and 19: The Tribunal found that the disclosure of employees’ names and personal addresses would not be lawful under the GDPR, as it would be unnecessary to achieve a legitimate interest and potentially cause distress, and that the disclosure would contravene the data protection principles.

  • Question 13: The Tribunal indicated that, for this point, the Council could have refused the request under regulation 12(4) EIR, as the information was not held. Disclosure is not in the public interest when the information is not available.

The Tribunal concluded that the Information Commissioner correctly decided that the Council applied regulation 13(1) EIR appropriately by withholding the information requested in questions 13, 18, and 19 of the Request due to personal data considerations.


In conclusion, Darbari Rachhpaul Singh Bedi v Information Commissioner reinforces the rigorous approach required when considering the disclosure of personal data under the EIR. The Tribunal upheld the principle that while there is a legitimate interest in accessing information, it cannot come at the cost of violating data protection principles or infringing on individual rights and freedoms. Legal professionals should note the importance of EIR and GDPR in Information Rights Tribunal cases, which place significant emphasis on necessity and proportionality in disclosing personal data.