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TPR correspondence relating to Mere Plantations

FOI reference - FOI-4957
Date - 3 August 2020

Request

  1. All internal correspondence and communications that mentions, or refers to, the company Mere Plantations, a British company that owns teak plantations in Ghana.
  2. All external correspondence and communications that mentions, or refers to, the company Mere Plantations. I would expect this to include correspondence and communications between The Pensions Regulator and Mere Plantations.

As for a timeframe, I am happy for you to conduct a search from 1st January 2019 to the day this request is processed.

Response

I can confirm that we hold information falling within the scope of your request.  However, we are unable to supply the information requested for the reasons set out below.

Section 21 – Information accessible to applicant by other means

The information falling within the scope of your request includes a copy of a story produced by The Times. This information is exempt from disclosure under Section 21 of the FoIA. This is because the information is accessible to you, as it is already in the public domain. The relevant article can be accessed here:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pensions-investigation-regulator-hides-details-of-the-suspected-scam-s3vv905g8

Section 44(1)(a) – restricted information under s82 PA04

The remaining information you have requested contains information which is classed as restricted information. Restricted information is defined at section 82(4) of the Pensions Act 2004 (PA04) as:

‘…information obtained by the Regulator in the exercise of its functions which relates to the business or other affairs of any person’. 

To pursue our function effectively we request and, in some instances, demand documents and other information from trustees, employers and other relevant individuals and organisations. To balance these powers and ensure information can be shared with us in pursuit of our function restrictions are placed on how we make further discloses that information.

Under section 82(5) of the PA04 it is a criminal offence to disclose such information except as permitted under that Act.

Whilst the FoIA is based on the presumption of releasing information, section 44(1)(a) of the FoIA provides an absolute exemption to the requirement to disclose any information if its disclosure is prohibited by or under any enactment.  In this case, section 82 of the PA04 prohibits disclosure. This exemption is absolute and does not require a public interest assessment be undertaken.