What about requests for MPs’ correspondence?
If you receive a request for MPs’ correspondence, or for information included in communications with MPs, you should always consider consulting the MP(s) concerned.
Consultation can be important as the MP may wish to provide you with information about the correspondence and the potential effects of releasing it.
You should first consider whether the information includes any personal data of constituents. Constituents may also expect that information they provide to their MP will be treated as confidential.
The contents of an MP’s letter to a public authority is also likely to be that MP’s personal data. You should consider:
- the capacity in which the MP has written (eg as an MP or as a local resident);
- the likely expectations of the MP about the disclosure of the information;
- the effect which disclosure would have on the MP;
- the content of the information; and
- any public interest in the disclosure of the information.
The final decision on disclosure rests with the public authority, but you should ensure that you take into account any relevant information provided by the MP. You must release the information unless there is good reason not to. For more about when you may be able to refuse the request, or withhold some or all of the information, see When can we refuse a request?.
This guidance may also be relevant to requests for correspondence with or from other elected representatives, including councillors and members of the devolved administrations.
Remember that elected representatives aren’t public authorities, so they aren’t required to respond to requests made under FOIA.
If an elected representative receives a request for information held by a public authority, they should advise the requester how to direct their request to the public authority.