The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has considered whether the Tate Gallery was exempt from disclosing information concerning sponsorship and meeting minutes to BP under sections 41(1) and 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

In three related appeals[1], the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has considered whether the Tate Gallery was exempt from disclosing information concerning sponsorship figures and other information under sections 41(1) and 43(2) of the FOIA. In relation to the sponsorship figures, the Tribunal overturned the Information Commissioner’s decision. It confirmed that in applying the public interest test pursuant to s.43(2), the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed disclosure of the requested figures. The Tate was however, ordered to disclose figures from 1990 to 2006. The Tribunal rejected the Tate’s argument that knowledge of BP’s historic level of sponsorship support would impact adversely on negotiations with possible sponsors post 2012.

The other two appeals (0070 and 0071) concerned information relating to the Tate’s ethics committee, in particular minutes of their meetings. The Tribunal partly overturned the Information Commissioner’s decision and held that the Tate was entitled to withhold disclosure of more of the redacted information than was initially decided by the Commissioner. The Tribunal held that safeguarding the decision-making process and work of the ethics committee outweighed the public interest in some cases. It did however  acknowledge that there needed to be a balance between not damaging the Tate’s commercial interests, but still ensuring that enough information was disclosed to allow for transparency of the Tate’s decision making and public accountability.