Request for father’s immigration file

Privacy
Legislation:
Official Information Act 1982
Section 9
Legislation display text:
Official Information Act 1982, ss 9(2)(a), 9(1)
Agency:
Government Department
Ombudsman:
Mel Smith
Case number(s):
172023
Issue date:
Language:
English

Private interests gave rise to a public interest—pursuing legal rights and remedies 

A woman requested her father’s immigration file in order to make an application for citizenship in another country. Her request was refused on privacy grounds (section 9(2)(a) of the OIA), and she complained to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman gave an initial indication that withholding may not be necessary to protect the father’s privacy, given he had died quite some time ago (in the 1960s). He also considered the public interest in release. He found that, quite apart from the requester’s own private interest in obtaining the information, there was a strong public interest in the release of historical information about family members to assist people in pursuing their legal rights, including the right to apply for citizenship in other countries.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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