Legal Action Over Revealing PATI Request

September 23, 2016

Legal action is being taken regarding an incident last year that saw Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier reveal that Opposition MP Walton Brown had filed a PATI request.

“I can confirm the matter is before the courts and we will be going to trial,” MP Walton Brown said.

In May 2015, while speaking in the House of Assembly, Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier said that he was aware of a PATI request made by MP Walton Brown, which Mr Brown said is in violation of the PATI act which states the “identity of a requester shall be kept confidential.”

Speaking at that time, Mr Brown said, “The public must be concerned that a Cabinet Minister would place confidential information into the public domain, in violation of the laws of Bermuda,” while Minister Cannonier told Bernews that he apologised to Mr Brown.

The PATI Act says: “The identity of a requester shall be kept confidential and, except with the consent of the requester, may not be disclosed to any person other than a person who is required to deal with the request under this Act.”

Screenshot of the relevant section of the Public Access to Information Act [PDF]:

Fullscreen capture 5152015 32113 PM PATI

Following that, the Information Commissioner confirmed that she opened an investigation, saying: “After being notified by a member of the public that a breach of a requester’s confidentiality may have occurred contrary to section 12[4] of the Public Access to Information [PATI] Act, the Information Commissioner opened an investigation pursuant to Section 57[3] of the Act on Friday, 15 May, 2015.

“Section 12[4] expressly requires those handling a PATI request to keep the name of the requester confidential from everyone except ‘a person who is required to deal with the request under this Act.”

Audio of comments from MP Walton Brown following the exchange in the House in 2015:

Audio of comments from Minister Cannonier following the exchange in the House in 2015:

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