To decide whether we can use a ‘qualified’ exemption a Public Interest Test must be carried out.
The Public Interest Test involves a test of whether the release of potentially exempt information is of a greater public interest than that of withholding the information. The Public Interest Test is generally biased towards releasing the information.
Public Interest is defined by the Information Commissioner as, ‘something which serves the interest of the Public’, rather than simply something that the public are interested in.
In certain circumstances the Freedom of Information Officer may require additional time to consider the Public Interest Test and will write to let you know that an extension of time beyond the 20 working day deadline is needed.
The time extension is allowed providing that it is considered ‘reasonable’ and is only to consider the Public Interest Test.