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Deleted Emails Potentially Recoverable?

In the recent case of Keiller v Information Commissioner and University of East Anglia the First Tier Tribunal held that an email was still “held” by the University, despite the fact that the person who generated it had deleted it. 

It had been backed-up on to a University server and this remained in the University’s control despite the fact that it was currently in the hands of the Police. 

The Tribunal considered that restoration from back-up records should usually be attempted, where it is a simple task do to.  Therefore it would appear that electronic records that have been deleted that are potentially recoverable are still subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act as these are still “held” by the public authority.  The issue that remains to be answered is: how difficult must the task of recovery be before a public authority can say that the information is no longer held by it as an answer in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act?

No doubt that matter will end up before the Information Commissioner and possibly the Tribunal in due course. 

About the author

Natalie Ruane profile photo

Natalie Ruane

Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.

Published: Monday 14th October 2013
Categorised: Information Law

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