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Unsafe Derby student block fire report to be kept secret

The fire safety report that led to the evacuation of a 350-bed student accommodation block in Derby city centre is to remain secret says the University of Derby.

It says that revealing its contents would potentially harm its commercial interests and the whistleblower who highlighted fire safety issues at Cathedral Court.

Students living at the accommodation, in Cathedral Road, were told last month that they would not be able to return to their flats and were informed that there were issues with fire protection measures at the site.

The University of Derby said that a fire report conducted just before Christmas prompted the decision to relocate students from Cathedral Court and that further assessments led to the decision to close the accommodation block for the rest of the academic year.

Derbyshire Live submitted a Freedom of Information request to the University of Derby to disclose the fire safety report, which has been declined.

University of Derby told Derbyshire Live that disclosure of the report could “prejudice the commercial interests of the University” and make it more difficult to conduct commercial dealings.

It also declined to release the report in a response to the request that disclosing the documents could affect formal legal proceedings and that “the matter is currently under investigation”.

It is unknown the nature of either these legal proceedings or the investigation and the University of Derby declined to provide any more information on the matter.

The university also argues that disclosure of the report “would adversely affect the interests of the person or organisation that provided the information”.

The Freedom of Information Act gives members of the public the right to ask public sector organisations (including universities) for any information that they hold.

However, organisations can refuse these requests on a number of grounds.

The University said: “We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information with regards to being open and transparent. However, at present, whilst under investigation, the public interest in protecting the interests of individuals/commercial bodies who provide information to the University on a confidential basis is maintained.

“This in turn would impair the University to conduct a full investigation and the ability to make decisions and develop policies on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. Release would therefore would not be in the public interest.”

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