James Cornwell and Oliver Jackson succeed in resisting disclosure of the names of around 1 million Covid business loan recipients


Spotlight on Corruption Ltd & James Pearce v Information Commissioner & British Business Bank plc (First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) – EA/2022/0014 & 0061)

The First-tier Tribunal has ruled that the British Business Bank plc (“BBB”) is not required to disclose, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”), the names of approximately 1 million companies which received government-backed support, including Bounce Back Loans, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Tribunal was considering joined appeals against decisions of the Information Commissioner finding that BBB was entitled to refuse disclosure of the names of recipients of loans under four business support loan schemes relying on s.43(2) FOIA. The Tribunal dismissed both appeals. It held that there was a real risk that disclosure of these names would cause commercial prejudice to these companies, and that this prejudice outweighed the public interest in transparency and scrutiny of the government schemes.

James Cornwell and Oliver Jackson acted for the second respondent, BBB.

The case has been covered in the media by the Times (here), the Guardian (here and here), and the Financial Times (here).

A copy of the judgment can be found here.