Freedom of Information Act 2014

33.

Security, defence and international relations

33. (1) A head may refuse to grant an FOI request in relation to a record (and in particular but without prejudice to the generality otherwise of this subsection, to a record to which subsection (2) applies) if, in the opinion of the head, access to it could reasonably be expected to affect adversely—

(a) the security of the State,

(b) the defence of the State,

(c) matters relating to Northern Ireland, or

(d) the international relations of the State.

(2) This subsection applies to a record that—

(a) contains information that relates to the tactics, strategy or operations of the Defence Forces in or outside the State, or

(b) contains a communication between a Minister of the Government or his or her Department or Office and a diplomatic mission or consular post in the State or of the State or a communication between the Government or an officer of a Minister of the Government or another person acting on behalf of such a Minister and another government or a person acting on behalf of another government—

(i) other than where such information was communicated in confidence or relates to negotiations between the State and the other state in question or in relation to such a state, or is a record of that other state containing information the disclosure of which is prohibited by that state, or

(ii) other than a record containing analysis, opinions, advice, recommendations and the results of consultations or information the release of which, in the opinion of the head, could reasonably be expected to affect adversely the international relations of the State,

in which case (that is to say, either of the cases falling within sub paragraph (i) or (ii)), the request shall be refused.

(3) A head shall refuse to grant an FOI request if the record concerned—

(a) contains information that was obtained or prepared for the purpose of intelligence in respect of the security or defence of the State,

(b) contains information that relates to the detection, prevention or suppression of activities calculated or tending to undermine the public order or the authority of the State (which expression has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939), or

(c) contains information communicated in confidence—

(i) to any person in or outside the State from any person in or outside the State (including any law enforcement agency) and relating to a matter referred to in subsection (1), or to the protection of human rights and expressed by the latter person to be confidential or to be communicated in confidence,

(ii) from, to, or within an international organisation of states or a subsidiary organ of such an organisation or an institution or body of the European Union, or relates to negotiations between the State and such an organisation, organ, institution or within or in relation to such an organisation, organ, institution or body, or is a record of such a body containing information the disclosure of which is prohibited by the organisation, organ, institution or body, or

(iii) (whether generated in the State or elsewhere) in the possession of a public body in relation to planning for, or responses to, threats or incidents in respect of network and information security.

(4) Where an FOI request relates to a record to which subsection (1) applies, or would, if the record existed, apply, and the head concerned is satisfied that the disclosure of the existence or non-existence of the record would prejudice a matter referred to in that subsection, he or she shall refuse to grant the request and shall not disclose to the requester concerned whether or not the record exists.