Business Education

Goldsmith International Business School

Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber)  March 4, 2020 – 07:50 pm
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Goldsmith International Business School v the Information Commissioner and The Home Office (Information rights : Freedom of information - absolute exemptions) [2014] UKUT 563 (AAC) (16 December 2014)



Before: Upper Tribunal Judge Wikeley


For the Appellant: Mr Ladi Tokosi, Head of Operations, with Mr

Emman Aluko, Business School Principal

For the First Respondent: Mr Christopher Knight, counsel, instructed by the Information Commissioner

For the Second Respondent: Mr Richard O’Brien, counsel, instructed by

the Treasury Solicitor



The DECISION of the Upper Tribunal is to dismiss the appeal.

The decision of the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) (Information Rights) in relation to the Appellant’s appeal against Decision Notice FS50498491, does not involve any error on a point of law. The appeal to the Upper Tribunal is therefore dismissed and so the First-tier Tribunal’s decision stands.

This decision is given under section 11 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.


An outline of the background to this appeal

1. Goldsmith International Business School Limited (“Goldsmith IBS”) made a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) to the Home Office about immigration decision notices relating to two of its students. The Home Office refused the request, citing the exemption in section 40(2) of FOIA (personal data). The Information Commissioner (“the Commissioner”) subsequently upheld that refusal.

2. Goldsmith IBS then appealed to the First-tier Tribunal (“the Tribunal”), which dismissed its appeal (EA/2013/0190), holding that the section 40(2) exemption had been properly applied by the Home Office and then the Commissioner. Goldsmith IBS now appeals to the Upper Tribunal, permission having been given by Judge Bartlett QC, who presided at the Tribunal hearing.

3. The principal legal issue that arises on this appeal is the proper interpretation of the test of “reasonable necessity” to be applied when considering condition 6(1) of Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”).

A summary of the Upper Tribunal’s decision

4. I conclude, for the reasons that follow, that the Tribunal’s decision does not involve any error of law. I therefore dismiss the appeal to the Upper Tribunal by Goldsmith IBS.

The oral hearing before the Upper Tribunal

5. I held an oral hearing of this appeal at Field House in London on 2 December 2014. The Appellant was represented by Mr Ladi Tokosi, Head of Operations, assisted by Mr Emman Aluko, Business School Principal. The First Respondent was represented by Mr Christopher Knight and the Second Respondent by Mr Richard O’Brien, both of Counsel. I am grateful to them all for their assistance.

The factual context

6. Goldsmith IBS is a college specialising in accountancy and business studies. Students, and especially international students, are the life blood of such an enterprise. Public universities and private colleges alike have a keen interest in the framework of immigration law and practice as it affects overseas students, and particularly those from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). This framework has radically changed over the past five years or so, but the following very compressed summary suffices for present purposes.


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