Papers between GC and BHA/other horse racing and media bodies
Please could you send the minutes of any meetings and all associated papers held between the Gambling Commission and the BHA or/and other horseracing bodies including racecourses and media bodies during 2022 and 2023.
I understand at least two meetings were held in February/ March 2023 and also 2nd December 2022.
There may have been other meetings that I have no current record of and I would request munites of any meeting in person or virtual.
Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
In your email you have requested ‘the minutes of any meetings and all associated papers held between the Gambling Commission and the BHA or/and other horseracing bodies including racecourses and media bodies during 2022 and 2023.’
Please see the attached information we are able to provide falling within the scope of your request.
We have redacted from all of the attachments, information relating to identifiable individuals that would constitute personal data.
The Data Protection Act 2018 requires personal data to be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject. It is the view of the Commission that disclosing the personal information within the attached documents would constitute the disclosure of personal data and would contravene this principle.
This information is therefore exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Further to this, there are a small number of redactions which have been made by virtue of section 31 (Law Enforcement) and section 41 (Confidentiality).
Section 31(1)(g) exempts information whose disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2).
The Commission considers the subsections below apply and therefore the information is exempt from disclosure:
i. Subsection 31(2)(a) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply with the law, ii. Subsection 31(2)(b) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper, iii. Subsection 31(2)(c) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise,
Public interest test
The factors the Commission has considered when applying the public interest test have been detailed below.
Arguments in favour of disclosure:
- The Commission is a public body which is required to regulate the gambling industry in the public interest. There is therefore a public interest in members of the public having confidence the Commission is being open and honest with the information it holds so that it can be held to account.
- It is important that the public are assured that the Commission is carrying out its functions in ensuring that any individuals or organisations who are involved in providing gambling facilities to the public have undergone the necessary assessments and will uphold the licencing objectives ensuring that consumers are protected.
- Disclosure of the requested information could demonstrate to stakeholders and relevant parties how the Commission is assessing licensees and, furthermore, this disclosure may encourage stakeholders to work with us and contribute to our programme of work, increasing confidence in the Commission as a regulator and its ability to uphold the law.
Public interest arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption
- Making specific individuals or events identifiable could alert individuals involved to the fact that the Commission was/is investigating a particular case and provide them with an opportunity to alter their behaviours or evade detection. This would result in making it more difficult for the Commission to achieve its regulatory aims.
- Further to this, fulfilling this request for information would impact on the openness of stakeholders when sharing important information with us or other law enforcement agencies.
- The amount of information released is carefully considered in order to protect the integrity of investigations and individuals or operators from being unfairly associated with unsubstantiated allegations.
- Finally, fulfilling this request may prejudice the outcome of any future investigation by the Commission, or another body, to the detriment of the public interest.
Weighing the balance
The Commission acknowledges that there is a public interest in promoting the accountability and transparency of public authorities and the importance of having sufficient information in the public domain to support consumers with their choice of operator, however, disclosure of the information would be damaging to the Commission as a regulatory body which ultimately serves to protect the wider public interest.
We consider that the public interest is better served by withholding this information, ensuring that consumers are protected through our processes rather than releasing information about our processes which in our view will not benefit the public as a whole.
Confidentiality – Section 41
Section 41 provides an exemption under the FOIA from the right to access information where the information was provided to the public authority in confidence.
Information will be covered by Section 41 if:
i. it was obtained by the Commission from any other person (including another public authority), ii. its disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by that or any other person.
When deciding if disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence, the Commission has to consider:
i. Whether the information has the quality of confidence. ii. Whether it was imparted in circumstances imparting an obligation of confidence, and iii. Whether disclosure would be an unauthorised use of the information to the detriment of the confider.
Section 41 is designed to give those who provide confidential information to public authorities, a degree of assurance that their confidences will continue to be respected, should the information fall within the scope of an FOIA request.
The information in the e-mails was provided to the Commission in confidence, following a request for information. It has the quality of confidence and was imparted in circumstances imparting an obligation of confidence.
Having considered your request and the information falling within the scope of your request, the Commission has concluded that disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence, and the BHA (along with other third parties) would have an actionable claim for breach of confidence if this information was disclosed.
The Commission considers that the public interest in disclosing this information to you is outweighed by the wider public interest in preserving the principle of confidentiality, and the impact that disclosure would have on the interests of the BHA and other third parties.
The Commission depends and relies on the free flow of confidential information from stakeholders that contribute to its statutory functions.
Section 41 gives those who give confidential information to public authorities a degree of assurance that their confidences will continue to be respected, should the information fall within the scope of a FOIA request.
Therefore, in light of the above, and on balance, this information is captured under the exemption set out in section 41 of the FOIA and therefore will not be disclosed.
Review of the decision
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your Freedom of Information request you are entitled to an internal review of our decision. You should write to FOI Team, Gambling Commission, 4th floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP or by reply to this email.
Please note, internal review requests should be made within 40 working days of the initial response. Requests made outside this timeframe will not be processed.
If you are not content with the outcome of our review, you may then apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have already exhausted the review procedure provided by the Gambling Commission.
The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office (opens in a new tab), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Information Management Team
Victoria Square House
Birmingham B2 4BP
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