Request ID: FOI-0803-2122 Date published: 18 August 2021
Please disclose, preferably by PDF, any communications relating to witnesses appearing/not appearing/deciding/discussing whether or not to appear at coroners inquests relating to the Croydon tram crash.
Our Ref: FOI-0803-2122
Thank you for your request received on 22 July 2021 asking for information about the Croydon Tram inquest.
We will never forget the day that Dane Chinnery, Donald Collett, Robert Huxley, Philip Logan, Dorota Rynkiewicz, Philip Seary and Mark Smith tragically died and a further 62 people were injured in 2016 when a tram derailed at Sandilands junction in Croydon. Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those who lost their lives, and with everyone affected. The Senior Coroner decided in relation to further evidence that: “The RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) evidence, together with the additional evidence (which supplemented the RAIB evidence) heard by the jury to date, has covered all of the matters within the scope of these inquests and all matters that must be ascertained by the jury pursuant to section 5 of the 2009 Act … After careful consideration of the law and the submissions of all parties, I have concluded that there is no credible evidence that the investigation of the RAIB is “incomplete, flawed or deficient”. On a proper analysis of the Norfolk case, I have further concluded that not only am I not required to call further evidence, but that I am not permitted to call further evidence as a matter of law.” TfL was ready to provide evidence to the Senior Coroner if required to do so and did give evidence about Prevention of Future Death (PFD) issues. The Senior Coroner has said that she will be making a decision about issuing a PFD report soon.
TfL has co-operated fully with all of the investigations that have taken place and we have assisted the Senior Coroner in any way that we could throughout the Inquests. Representatives of TfL attended the Inquests every day demonstrating our commitment to ensure that we learn lessons for the future to ensure nothing like this accident happens again, as well as provide confidence that any further action to continuously improve safety will be taken. TfL has implemented all of the RAIB recommendations addressed to it. The Office of Road and Rail (ORR) has concluded all the recommendations have been implemented by TfL to its satisfaction and the ORR’s oversight of TfL including London Trams continues.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and our information access policy. We do hold the information you require.
In accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply any of the information as it is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under sections 40(2) – personal information, section 42 – legal privilege, and section 32 (1)(a) and (4)(b) - court, inquiry or arbitration records.
Much of the requested information is held only by virtue of being contained in a document served by a public authority for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter, this makes it exempt under Section 32(1)(a). Section 32(4)(b) makes clear that “proceedings in a particular cause or matter” includes inquests.
The use of sections 32 (1)(a) and (4)(b) is an absolute exemption and not subject to an assessment of whether the public interest favours use of the exemption.
In addition, and in accordance with our obligations under Data Protection legislation, this information has been withheld as required by section 40(2) of the FOI Act. This is because disclosure of this information would allow for the identification of witnesses and would be a breach of the legislation, specifically the first principle of Article 5 of the UK General Data Protection Regulation which requires all processing of personal data to be fair and lawful. It would not be fair to disclose this personal information when the individuals have no expectation it would be disclosed and TfL has not satisfied one of the conditions which would make the processing ‘fair’.
This exemption to the right of access to information under section 40(2) is also an absolute exemption and not subject to an assessment of whether the public interest favours use of the exemption.
The requested information is also subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 42. In this instance the exemption has been applied as some of the information you have requested relates directly to the seeking, provision, and result of legal advice.
Section 42 of the FOI Act exempts legally privileged information, including legal advice, from disclosure under the FOI Act. There is a very strong element of public interest inbuilt into the concept of Legal Professional Privilege and this has long been recognised, by the Information Commissioner, the Information Tribunal and the courts, and it reflects the importance of legal advice being sought, and given, in confidence as a fundamental condition on which the administration of justice rests. There is an inherent public interest in TfL being able to obtain full and frank legal advice, and this is consistent with TfL’s responsibility to analyse and address legal risks and issues.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.
Gemma Jacob Senior FOI Case Officer FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London