Information Rights Tribunal dismisses Covid company loans appeal

Spotlight on Corruption and James Francis Pearce v Information Commissioner & British Business Bank [EA/2022/0014 & EA/2022/0061]

The First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has handed down its decision on an FOI appeal brought by Spotlight on Corruption. In August 2020, Spotlight had made a Freedom of Information request asking the British Business Bank, a government-owned development bank, to release the names of all companies who had taken loans under the government’s four Covid-19 loan schemes (the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme; the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme; the Bounce Back Loan scheme; and the Future Fund Scheme).

The Tribunal dismissed the appeal, agreeing with the Information Commissioner that the British Business Bank had been entitled to withhold the requested information on the basis that the public interest in maintaining the section 43(2) ‘commercial interests’ exemption outweighed the public interest in transparency and disclosure.

The decision of the Tribunal can be found here.

5RB’s Gemma McNeil-Walsh acted as pro-bono counsel for Spotlight on Corruption.

The hearing was reported in The Times, the Guardian, and the Financial Times.