12 October 2009 | Paul Snell
The Central Office of Information (COI), which handles all advertising for UK government departments, has been instructed to disclose how it evaluated suppliers on a tender.
The Information Tribunal unanimously reversed the decision of the Information Commissioner, who had ruled it fell under the "commercial interests" exclusion in the Act and therefore did not have to be revealed.
The case was brought by Fred Keene, the former owner of a reprographics company that submitted an unsuccessful tender to the COI. Keene appealed to the tribunal after the commissioner's initial verdict.
At the tribunal, ISBA - the advertising industry association, which was supporting the COI - argued full disclosure would set a "dangerous precedent" and was unnecessary. It added that advertising agencies and the supplier industry would be "shocked and dismayed" if losing bidders were entitled to full disclosure of evaluations.
But the tribunal ruled the COI evaluation did not contain commercially sensitive information and the commercial interests of the COI were unlikely to suffer as a result of the information's release.