Thursday, August 31, 2006

International news

New Zealand - Access to Court Records
The Law Commission's report Access to Court Records contains recommendations for the principles and rules that should govern access to court records.

NZ Lawyer Issue 46 - Opening access to court records
"A new Court Information Act providing open access to court records has been proposed by the Law Commission in its report Access to Court Records, tabled in Parliament on 2 August 2006."

Note - under the UK FOIA, Court Records are listed as an absolute exmeption under S32, see DCA guidance, ICO guidance and casework advice, plus there has been a information tribunal ruling on S32 which held that the ICO's Decision Notice upholding an application of S32 "was not in accordance with law".

USA - Federal Computer week - Agencies must report on FOIA usage
"For this year's annual e-government report, agencies must describe how they distribute information under the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Office of Management and Budget."
Information Triubnal - Pending appeals

Further dates for appeal hearings have been added to the Tribunal Website
Latest decision notices

Case Ref: FS50084360
Date: 23/08/06
Public Authority: Plymouth City Council
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.17 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.36 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.41 - Complaint Not Upheld.
Full Transcript of Decision notice FS50084360

Case Ref: FS50082254
Date: 23/08/06
Public Authority: Plymouth City Council
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.36 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.41 - Complaint Not Upheld.
Full transcript of Decision Notice FS50082254

Case Ref: FS50082251
Date: 23/08/06
Public Authority: Plymouth City Council
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.36 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.41 - Complaint Not Upheld.
Full transcript of Decision Notice FS50082251

Case Ref: FS50064584
Date: 22/08/06
Public Authority: Thames Valley Police
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.31 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.38 - Complaint Not Upheld, FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full transcript of Decision Notice FS50064584

Case Ref: FER0091149
Date: 21/08/06
Public Authority: Environment Agency
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: EIR r.5 - Complaint Not Upheld; EIR r.13 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full transcript of Decision Notice FER0091149

Case Ref: FER0106205
Date: 21/08/06
Public Authority: Worcestershire County Council
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: EIR r.13 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full transcript of Decision Notice FER0106205

Case Ref: FS50097759
Date: 17/08/06
Public Authority: South Shropshire District Council
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.22 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.42 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.43 - Complaint Upheld
Full transcript of Decision Notice FS50097759

Case Ref: FS50098965
Date: 10/08/06
Public Authority: Thames Valley Police
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.31 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.38 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50098965
Ministerial correspondence relating to council tax in the financial year 1991-2

The HM Treasury disclosure log is one of the most interesting disclosure logs to browse from a historical point of view and there are often many disclosures that are of great interest in offering new perspectives on events we may now regard as history. The end of the Thatcher regime, the Poll tax riots and the replacement of the Poll tax with the Council tax is given a new perspective in this disclosure recently added to the Treasury's log, covering Ministerial correspondence relating to council tax in the financial year 1991-2. The files are available chronologically and clearly illustrate the debate about how to reform the Poll tax including detailed correspondence between ministers and the Prime Minister. Issues discussed inlcuded treatment of Farmers and the Clergy, higher bills in the South, effect on second homes in Wales. The information also has revalance in today's political environment as the Council Tax is currently under pressure as unfair (see debate on wikipedia).

There is also an issue about these types of FOI disclosures - these previously would have been made by the National Archives under 30 year rule pre FOIA - however these types of releases are now being made by Depts under FOIA and are being placed on disclosure logs but many depts may simply remove these releases from their logs over time and the publication of this historical information may be fleeting. I would argue for an ammendment of the FOIA to mandate disclosure logs as in many cases information relating to important historical disclosures could be lost or unavailable to the public.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

JISC Information Gateway survey

As previously mentioned we're currently working on the JISC Information Governance Gateway project here at the University. (read more on the background). In June of this year we carried out a survey of all Information Governance Practitioners in UK Higher Education Institutions to help us inform the development of the JISC Information Governance Gateway project.

A summary of results from this survey is now available.
Canada - Government to make criminals of anyone with leaked information, lawyer argues

This story about a current court case in Canada under the Security of Information Act from the Ottawa Citizen makes in interesting reading, the case dates back to the raids on Ottawa Citizenb reporter Juliet O’Neill’s home and office Jan. 21, 2004, after she wrote an article in the Citizen about Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was put under surveillance by Canadian security forces and subsequently deported to Syria by the U.S. government.

David Paciocco (her lawyer) argued that the Security of Information Act -- originally intended to prevent spies and traitors from gaining secret information that might jeopardize Canada's national security -- is now being re-interpreted by the government as "the enforcement arm of the Access to Information Act."

The line taken in Canada is:
"Both leakers and recipients of leaked material must know that absent authorization, releasing information that could not be given out pursuant to a request under the Access to Information Act is highly questionable activity," the factum states."

There are similar issues here in relation to the al-jazeera memo, the Daily Mirror story and the prosection of Keogh and O'Connor under the Official Secrets Act, which is scheduled to start on October 9th 2006. Given that FOIA requests (including one by myself) have been made for the memo I wonder if similar arguments will be used here ? (though this maybe less likely as the OSA has explicit wording in S3 about information relating to International relations)

Read more about the al-Jazeera memo

Wikipedia entry on the memo

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

CIPFA event

Conducting an Information and Records Audit to Ensure Good Governance
Glasgow - 14/09/2006 | London - 19/09/2006
Further details:
Media update

Guardian - Ambassador warned of Azerbaijan oil pipeline risk
"A British ambassador warned that emergency services would not cope if terrorists blew up a strategically important oil pipeline heavily supported by the UK government, a Whitehall document shows."

Daily Telegraph - How top-secret tunnellers of MI5 infiltrated the man from the Pru
"Top-secret tunnels dug under central London to protect ministers and military chiefs from atom bomb attack were rumbled when digging upset the man from the Pru. The Cabinet Office file on the programme, which began in 1949, is marked "not to be released to the Public Record Office", the former title of the archives. That decision has been reversed under the Freedom of Information Act."



Daily Telegraph
- Blunders by NHS kill thousands of patients each year
"Such incidents should be flagged up to local strategic health authority bosses. But a series of requests under the Freedom of Information Act has uncovered how the culture of under-reporting remains."

Scotsman - Executive is worst for withholding information
"THE Scottish Executive was singled out as the worst performing public authority yesterday in its response to freedom of information requests. Kevin Dunion, Scotland's Information Commissioner, told an audience at the Festival of Politics that the Scottish Executive - which drew up the Freedom of Information Act - only provided information for a third of requests."

Observer - Hidden world of Britain's tormented families is laid bare
"When we left the country, they said if we returned they would reassess the children. We were unaware of this; we only found out now because of documents we demanded under the Freedom of Information Act."

The Guardian - Activist ejected from Labour conference had been spied on in 1960s
"Walter Wolfgang, the peace campaigner thrown out of last year's Labour party conference for heckling, was under clandestine surveillance by special branch as long ago as 1962, new documents reveal.... Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that special branch was keeping a file on him by the early 60s, recording what he said at public meetings.
Ananova - McDonald's cooks up burger probe
"McDonald's has sparked an official review of Britain's recommended guidelines for cooking burgers. It says the Chief Medical Officer's advice on temperatures and times - issued in 1998 - is more stringent than the US equivalent. The chain contacted the Food Standards Agency (FSA) which in turn sought independent scientific advice on burger cooking. McDonald's is referred to only as "an American fast food restaurant chain" in the FSA's papers. E.coli support group HUSH learned the chain's identity after asking the FSA for it under the Freedom of Information Act."

Mirror - BIN BROTHER
"SPY microchips that can monitor how much rubbish people throw out have been put in 500,000 wheelie bins.Richard Carden, South Norfolk council chairman, said they have been installed in more than 90,000 bins during the past two years.Residents were aware of them and some had even made requests under the Freedom of Information Act to access council records."

Regional News

Bridgwater Mercury - Shock youth drug figures
"SHOCKING statistics uncovered this week have shown 50 per cent more youngsters are being taken into custody in Bridgwater for possession of drugs than in Taunton....The statistics were uncovered following a Freedom of Information Act request asking for the number of juveniles found in possession of illegal drugs in the Avon and Somerset police area."

Suffolk Eveninhg Star - Arson-hit school's police call record
"COPLESTON High school, which was hit by an arson attack overnight, had to call police in 49 times last year - the fourth highest amount of calls of any school in the country. The figures, revealed in a national newspaper, were released under the Freedom of Information Act and placed Copleston High fourth in the paper's “league of shame”."

Norwich Evening News - Airport drugs seizures stay secret
"Customs bosses have refused to release information on drug seizures at Norwich Airport because they say it could threaten security at airports across the country and be used by smugglers to work out whether it is an easy target. Using the Freedom of Information Act the Evening News requested details from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the seizure of illegal drugs and other goods during the past two-and-a-half years."

Surrey Online - Five cases of court fines for parents of truant kids
"The figures,released under the Freedom of Information Act, show one parent was fined £300 and ordered to pay £80 in costs after her two children did not turn up at school."

International news

USA - Omb Watch - Open Government Rising Issue for 2006 Elections
"With November--and its many state, local and midterm Congressional elections--just around the corner, candidates are promising citizens a more open government in exchange for their vote. Access advocates believe that recent revelations about government secrecy (such the National Security Administration's covert warrantless spying program) and Washington corruption scandals have boosted public support for more democratic and less secretive government at the national, state and local levels, and campaigns are picking up on it."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Canada To Host Its Own Version Of 'Sunshine Week'

Taken from Editor and Publisher
"With reforms to Freedom of Information (FOI) laws stalled in the federal legislature, Canadian access ombudsmen and the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) intend to raise public awareness of government Sunshine issues with the nation's first-ever Right to Know Week to be held Sept. 24-30."

Also see the US Sunshine Week that has run for many years

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

4th International Right to Know Day

Right to Know Day is celebrated on 28th of September of each year. The aim of the day is to raise awareness of the right of access to government held information. (It is also the birthday of the FOI Advocates Network, which was created on 28 September 2002).

More details

If you have any ideas about what the blog could do for Right to Know Day here in the UK, post them below as a comment

The Global Transparency Initiative (GTI), a network of organisations that promote openness at the international financial institutions (IFIs: World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc.) is launching its Transparency Charter for IFIs on 17 and 19 Sept. at the World Bank IMF annual meeting in Batam/Singapore (the civil society event is in Batam). A draft is available on their website (www.ifitransparency.org) and a final draft will be available soon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

UCL Constitution Unit - new research project/results of FOI live practitioner survey

Well done to the UCL Constitution Unit who have received a ESRC grant and DCA grant worth (£146k from the ESRC and £40k from the DCA) for an evaluative study of the FOIA. The research is timly and should offer important new insight into the impact of the Act.

Summary of the reseatrch proposal:

The UK Freedom of Information Act 2000 is intended to make government more transparent, more participatory, more effective and more responsive to its citizens. Has it worked? Who uses the Act, and what do they want to know?
What is the effect on them of their new found knowledge? Has it improved their trust in government? Has it made government more effective and responsive, or have there been adverse side effects on the working of Whitehall?

This will be the first systematic study of the objectives, benefits and consequences of FOI, anywhere in the world. The study will help to clarify the purposes of FOI, and to evaluate the impact of the legislation through empirical testing of its effects. We will accomplish this mainly by carrying out a survey of people who have made FOI requests, and a survey of senior managers and officials in six central government departments. To cross check their views we will also hold focus group discussions with the main stakeholders of those departments, and analyse departments’ proactive publication schemes and FOI request disclosure logs. To get a better feel for the effects of FOI on the wider public who do not make FOI requests, we will analyse newspaper coverage of the FOI Act and FOI disclosures, to see whether the press reporting is likely to increase public understanding, trust or mistrust in government, etc.

The findings from this study will help to clarify the benefits and disbenefits of FOI, especially as they relate to government transparency and accountability, public understanding, public participation in the political process and the quality of government decision-making.


UCL have also just published The FOI Live 2006 Practitioner Survey Report: "Freedom of Information in the first 16 months: The FOI practitioner’s perspective" (Delegate Survey Report from Fourth Annual Information Conference for the Public Sector:
FOI Live 2006 15 August 2006

also see: presentations fron FOI live

How do we judge the success of FOI?
Robert Hazell and Sarah Holsen, The ConstitutionUnit, University College London
Information Rights User Group

The 2nd meeting took place on the 24th July. Minutes are again rather sparse and we only get 1 pages of notes.

24th July Minutes (PDF)

I've made a request for the presentation about the clearing house.

Other postings about the user group
Review of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act - a better way to conduct a review?

The above FOI review in Scotland has been taking place since October 2005 and has been a more structured and open process than the review that appears to been taking place of the fees regime by the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The following questions are asked about fees in the consultation document:

Topic 3 - QUESTIONS
Q12: Do you think the current fees regulations are generally correct? Are they effective?
Q13: A cap is placed on costs in that an authority does not have to comply at all with a
request for information if the projected costs of doing so are above an amount specified by
Scottish Ministers. This is referred to in the fees regulations as the “prescribed amount” and
is currently £600. In your view is this the correct amount?
Q14: Are the elements allowed for in estimating the “projected costs” appropriate?
Q15: Staff time costs which can be charged for is subject to the maximum rate of £15 per
hour. In your view is this the correct amount? Is this the correct approach?
Q16: The regulations did not introduce the provisions in the Act to aggregate costs where 2
or more requests are made by one person or by 2 or more different parties acting in concert.
Is there evidence in light of experience, of a requirement to incorporate these provisions in
future revised fees regulations?
Q17: Do you have any other comments on the content of the current fees guidance (Annex 3
to the Section 60 Code of Practice)
Q18: Do you have any evidence of the resource implications/general impact of FOI(S)A on
your organisation?
Q19: Is the operation of the FOI(S)A fee charging regime working effectively with the
charging regime for the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs)?
Q20: How many times have you issued a fees notice?
8
Q21: How many times have fees notices which you have issued not been paid?
Q22: Are there any other issues on fees/charging which you wish to raise?


The terms of reference indicate that decisions would be taken in July (none have appeared yet).

Read the full consultation document

View the responses to the consultation. There are an impressive number of responses in comparison to the recent Westminster Select Committee inquiry submission of evidence. Some of responses from public authorities e.g see the response of Aberdeen City Council suggest harmonising some aspects of the FOIA 2000 and FOISA fees regulations.
International News


Fiji Times
- Civil society groups call for freedom of information law Region :None Country :Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu Topic :Access to Information

India -Zeenews - Govt drops move to amend RTI Act

USA -NY Times Court strikes down citizen requirement for state foi
"A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that it was unconstitutional for Delaware to deny public documents to nonresidents under a provision of the state's Freedom of Information Act."

.....This an interesting case, as the US FOIA itself allows anyone to make requests from anywhere in the world (as does the UK FOIA, see DCA guidance). Other national FOI laws such as Canada and New Zealand restrict use to citizens of that country. But it seems that in the US at state level access has been very restricted. This does at least highlight the relative benefit we have an overarching Act covering most of the public sector and that Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act is similarly open in who can make a request.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Open Government: a journal on freedom of Information
www.opengovjournal.org

August 2006
Volume 2 Issue 1 now available

Sign up for for new subscription service
(data is only used for the purposes of journal subscription and author submission)

Table of Contents
www.opengovjournal.org

Complete issue as one PDF

Editorial
Steve Wood

Research
The Official Information Act: A Window On Government Or Curtains Drawn?
Steven Price

Resarch: case study
Business confidentiality versus human health: the role of Japan’s information disclosure laws
Lawrence Repeta

Brief communications
Confidentiality and commercial interests—the verdict so far
Marcus Turle

Personal Privacy and the Right to Know
Ibrahim Hasan

Viewpoint
Information is Power
Paul Kelly

Conference Reports
Scholarship & the Freedom of Information Act: Year One PDF
British Academy

Book reviews
Freedom of Information Handbook by Carey, P and Turle, M eds
Andrew Flinn

Open Government in a Theoretical and Practical Context by Chapman, RA and Hunt, M
Richard Martin

Blacked out: Governrment Secrecy in the Information age by Roberts, A
Thomas Susman

Freedom of Information Manual by Turle, M
Steve Wood
International news

http://www.freedominfo.org:

INDIA: Right to Information in Jeopardy

Just six months after the Right to Information Act came into force, the bureaucrats in the Indian government are on the verge of rolling back the Act's progressive access provisions. To voice your support immediately, send a protest letter to: mkssrajasthan@gmail.com before August 25.

MEXICO: Newsweekly Asks for Access to Contested Ballots, Uses Information Act to Request Independent Count

In the spirit of the right to know, Mexican newsweekly Proceso has requested access to documents, tally sheets and ballots pertaining to the July 2, 2006, presidential elections via four different requests through Mexico's Freedom of Information Law.
Media update

Sunday Herald - BNFL paid union to back new nuclear power stations
"TRADE unionists have been given thousands of pounds by their government company bosses to campaign in favour of Tony Blair’s new nuclear power programme....Documents obtained by the Sunday Herald reveal that £15,050 was claimed in expenses from BNFL for “Nuklear21 union meetings” in 2005-06....Nuklear21’s expense claims were released to the Sunday Herald by BNFL in response to an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. The company had initially claimed that it did not hold any information about the group’s funding"

BBC news - NHS report 'criticisms deleted'
"A report into the £6.8bn NHS IT upgrade had criticisms removed and toned down before publication, the BBC learns." Read the first draft of the report.

Daily Telegraph
- Saudis handed £17m of free arms
"The Government agreed to hand over £17m-worth of arms to Saudi Arabia free of charge to avoid falling foul of anti-landmines rules, private ministerial papers reveal.The papers, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show the extent to which the Government has been willing to go to smooth the Saudi-British relationship."

The Guardian - Access denied to the laws that govern us
"Irving had hoped to create a free, user-friendly legal database to rival his previous successes. As such he filed Freedom of Information Act requests last year asking for the raw data held by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. Instead of thanking Irving for his interest, the DCA denied his request."

Freelance UK - The logo that cost taxpayers £164,000
"The department commissioned freelance designers to the tune of £67,000 so they could come up with the new motif, according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act."

Regional news

Cambridge Evening News- Thieves leave boys in blue red-faced
"CHEEKY thieves have pinched thousands of pounds worth of police property from under officers' noses. Among the property stolen from police in Cambridgeshire over the last two years are a £2,000 alarm system, a £1,000 laptop computer, and crime-fighting kit such as handcuffs and a police baton....Details of the thefts have been released following a request by the News under the Freedom of Information Act, and according to force records there have been a total of 61 incidents since April 2004."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ICO Press release: Freedom of information creates more confidence, research reveals

The Freedom of Information Act is clearly increasing people’s confidence in public authorities, according to new research published by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The findings show that 72% of individuals have more confidence in public authorities because of freedom of information, compared with only 55% in spring 2005, when the Act had only just come into force. Around three quarters of individuals (74%) questioned felt the Freedom of Information Act helped to promote accountability and transparency in public authorities, a significant rise from just over half in 2005.

The research also shows that 76% of individuals believe the Act has increased their knowledge of public authorities, a jump from 62% in 2005. Public authorities continue to have a positive attitude towards the Act. Some 82% of public authorities believe the Freedom of Information Act is needed.

Commenting on the research, Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see the positive impact the Freedom of Information Act is having on individuals. A great deal of information has been released over the past 18 months, which would not otherwise have been in the public domain. Almost every day, the phrase “released under the Freedom of Information Act” appears in both national and local newspapers, reporting the wide range of information that has been disclosed, from restaurant hygiene inspections, and university examination pass rates, to details of politicians’ expenses, European Union farm subsidies and hospital mortality rates. Increased confidence in public authorities is clearly of benefit to both individuals and organisations, showing that greater openness is starting to change the culture of government at all levels”

In the Commissioner’s recent annual report he signalled that he will take a more robust approach toward the small number of public authorities that repeatedly fail to meet acceptable timescales, and that where he finds systemic non compliance with the Act he will take formal action.


Will have some comment on this but will wait until I have received the full details of the research and methodology used that I've asked for.
DCA Consultation

The following consultation is listed on the DCA website:

Increasing penalties for deliberate and wilful misuse of personal data

This paper sets out for consultation proposals to amend the Data Protection Act to allow for custodial sanctions for those convicted of offences under section 55 of the Act. The consultation is aimed at the general public and relevant organisations in the UK.

Consultation begins on 24 July 2006
Consultation ends on 30 October 2006

Consultation paper [PDF 234kb, 34 pages]
Summary of questions [word 314kb, 2 pages]
ICO releases names of MP complainants after internal review

I've received a positive response to my request for an internal review related to the request I made to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for the details of MP's complaints to the ICO under Section 50. In reponse to my request the ICO had previous supplied details of thc complaints but removed the names of MPs. The ICO stated:

It would appear that the decision to remove MPs names from the information that was supplied to you was based upon our general practice of removing the names of complainants from the published versions of decision notices. This practice is based upon a concern that in some cases a decision notice may reveal information about the private life of the complainant which might, in turn, be a breach of the Data Protection Act. For instance, we receive many complaints from private individuals who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to discover the identity of a person who has made a complaint about them. The background to these cases may lie in disputes with a social services department, allegations about breaches of planning regulations etc. The notices will generally provide some background information including information about the issues giving rise to the complaint about the applicant for information.

Identifying the complainant in these cases would by likely both to involve an interference with the private life of the complainant and to act as a deterrent to others contemplating making a complaint to the Commissioner. It seems to me reasonable in these cases that the Commissioner should wish to protect the privacy of those who complain to him. We have found it easier to adopt the general practice of removing the names of complainant's from published decision notices rather than making a judgement in individual cases.
However, while I think that the general approach by the ICO is defensible, I think that complaints made to the Commissioner by Members of Parliament acting as such are fundamentally different. Most such requests will be made on official stationery and will clearly be made by members acting in an official capacity, whether as the representative of a constituent or, where requests are made in their own right, for more broadly political purposes. I do not think that there is any general justification for the removal of the names of MPs from the information which was previously supplied to you.


All the names of the MPs have now been supplied. The data is useful for my research as it helps in building the profile of MPs using the FOIA and appeal procedures.


Download the data
with MP names added as released by the ICO

Download my annotated version with party details added as colour codes. Party split is as follows 13 Conversative complaints 13, Liberal Democrat: 10 Labour: 11. It would be expected that opposition use is higher, it is interesting to note the Labour complaints mainly stay away from Central Govt (not a good career move?) compared to the Conservative complaints which are nearly all related to Central Govt.

See my previous post about my research into MPs use of the FOIA

Some public authorities have taken a proactive approach to this already, e.g see the disclosure log of Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital which names both MPs and organisations making requests (but not individuals).
Latest decision notices

Case Ref: FS50092801
Date: 09/08/06
Public Authority: Gwynedd Local Health Board/Bwrdd lechyd Lleol Gwynedd
Summary: The complainant requested information relating to informal discussions which took place between the local authority and the local health board. The public authority informed the complainant that the information requested was not held because the discussions were not recorded. The complainant did not accept this and complained to the Commissioner. Following investigation of the complaint, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the Commissioner's decision is that the information requested is not held and that the public authority has dealt with the complainant's request in accordance with Part 1 of the Act. The decision notice specifies no remedial steps to be taken by the public authority.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50092801


Case Ref: FS50086131
Date: 09/08/06
Public Authority: Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust
Summary: The complainant sought disclosure of a report commissioned by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust into the standard of clinical practice of a particular doctor. The Trust refused to disclose the information and upheld its decision on internal appeal, placing reliance upon the exemptions under sections 31, 36, 40 and 41 of the Act. The Commissioner considered the correspondence exchanged between the parties, sought clarification as to the basis for the Trust's reliance upon the exemptions and inspected the information withheld. The Commissioner's decision is to uphold the decision of the Trust to withhold the information.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.31 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.36 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.41 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50086131


Case Ref: FS50085398
Date: 08/08/06
Public Authority: London Metropolitan University
Summary: The complainant requested information relating to a degree course he had commenced at the London Metropolitan University in September 1988. The response initially given to the complainant did not meet the requirements of the Act. Following the Commissioner's intervention, the university provided a refusal notice in line with section 17 of the Act and stated that the complainant's requests were, for the most part, vexatious, as all of the information requested had been provided to the complainant previously. The Commissioner agrees that these requests were vexatious. The university had conceded that its initial response fell outside the statutory response time and failed to meet the requirements of section 17.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.10 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.14 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50085398


Case Ref: FS50080412
Date: 07/08/06
Public Authority: Exeter City Council
Summary: The complainant requested any information held by the council on the disposal or sale of a piece of land to the Fire Service. The council withheld the information on the basis that section 43 applied (commercial interests exemption). The Commissioner's decision is that the information should be disclosed as there would be no prejudice to disclose it at this time. The Commissioner also decided that even if prejudice was likely the public interest in disclosing the information outweighed that of maintaining the exemption in this instance, and therefore requires the council to disclose the requested information to the complainant within 30 days.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.43 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50080412


Case Ref: FS50092310
Date: 07/08/06
Public Authority: London Borough of Lewisham
Summary: The complainant made two requests to the public authority for information related to homelessness within Lewisham. The public authority responded to the first request by supplying some of the information that had been requested but then failed to respond to the complainant's second request. Despite attempts by the Commissioner to resolve the case informally the public authority still delayed disclosing the information. The council are now required to disclose the outstanding information from the first request and respond to the complainant's second request, or else issue a refusal notice in accordance with section 17 of the Act, within 35 days of the date of this notice.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.10 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50092310

Case Ref: FS50101916
Date: 01/08/06
Public Authority: Child Support Agency (an Executive Agency of the Department of Work and Pensions)
Summary: The complainant requested information on consolatory payments issued by the CSA, and complained to the Commissioner on the grounds that the response was outside 20 working day time limit, and that not all relevant information was provided. The Commissioner's decision is that the CSA did provide all the information it held, but that the response came outside the 20 working day limit, in breach of section 10 of the Act.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.10 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50101916


Browse decisions by section of the FOIA at the UCL site

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cost of Trident and the terms of agreement

A recent response added to the HM Treasury disclosure log:

Text of request:

How much does the UK pay to the USA for Trident missiles? What are the terms of agreement with the USA?

Text for disclosure:

Cost of procurement of Trident II D5 (unarmed) missiles up to 2004-05 provided in the attached file, this information has been previous supplied by MOD as answers to Parliamentary Questions.

The terms of agreement can be found in the Polaris Sales Agreement. This was signed in 1963 and published by HMSO (ISBN 0105468908), and is the Treaty under which the UK purchased Polaris and later Trident. A photocopy (priced £6) can be obtained by contacting The Stationery Office. Website www.tso.co.uk; e-mail photocopy@tso.co.uk; and telephone 020 7873 8447.


PDF of Procurement cost of Trident II D5 (unarmed) missiles

Media update

Open Secrets (BBC) - A year has passed

Open Secrets (BBC) - FOI for ministers


Islamic Republic News Agency
- Blair tried to stop ElBaradei's re-election - report
"Prime Minister Tony Blair last year tried to prevent Mohammed ElBaradei being re-elected for a third term as the the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to classified documents. Documents obtained by Scotland on Sunday newspaper under Britain's Freedom of Information Act show that the UK government continually refused to commit itself to supporting El Baradei as he approached the end of his second term."

Independent- Grouse moors: Under fire
"While in County Durham, the problem is particularly acute: less than one third of all the SSSIs in the Land of the Prince Bishops are in target condition, thanks chiefly to decades of inappropriate management of the moors. And using the Freedom of Information Act, The Independent on Sunday has discovered that more than £1.1m has been paid in the last year to local moor owners, sheep farmers and managers who control these SSSIs to improve their land."

Hold the frontpage - FOI investigation shows regional jobs pledge is a 'sham'
"Daily Post assistant news editor David Higgerson put in Freedom of Information requests to every Government department, and discovered that none of them could confirm a single job that had transferred to Merseyside."

IC North Wales - A5 dangers were known for 4 years
"Clwyd West MP David Jones said the news - revealed to him in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act - strengthened calls for compensation to be paid to firms which had suffered loss of business as a result of the road's sudden closure."
US FOIA: Government releases detailed 9/11 hijacking information


taken from RNIF.com:
"The United States government this week released much sought-after information regarding events surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, RAW STORY has learned. Included in the release are full transcripts of aircraft-to-ground air traffic recordings from all four flights hijacked on 9/11, as well as flight path studies for three of the flights. The transcripts are the government’s first full disclosure of the recordings’ contents. The release is in response to a freedom of information act request made by the National Security Archive. The documents were previously withheld as “under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland course


Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
Scottish Information Commissioner Decisions: what do they mean in practice?
A half-day course in Glasgow – 22 November 20
Details

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

International FOI news

India - Call for a Global Relay Fast to Protest the RTI Act Amendments
"This is a call to all Indians world-wide, who wish to see a strong, empowered, democratic India, free from the shackles of corruption, to come out and voice their protest against the recently proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act by sitting in a fast in solidarity with our partners in India who have decided to go on a hunger-strike until their demand to not tamper with the Act is met by the government."

USA - First Amendment Center - N.Y. strengthens its freedom of information law
"A new state law should make it faster and cheaper for New Yorkers to gain access to government records and Gov. George Pataki is considering another bill that could strengthen the Freedom of Information Law."

Bulgaria - Sofia News Agency - 15 Y in Jail for Meddling with Secret Services Files in Bulgaria
"A jail sentence of 5 to 15 years and a fine from BGN 15 000 to 30 000 hangs over those who hides, forges, destroys and releases documents that prove contribution to the Communist-era state security services, a draft law says."

Vanuatu-
News - MAV supports the principle idea of an FOI bill but cautious of it being jeopardized
"The Media Association blong Vanuatu (MAV) wishes to clarify its position on the Freedom of Information bill that has emerged during the recent media workshop in Port Vila organized by Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) and conducted by Professor David Robie of New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New FOI search tool

Thought this little search tool might be of use to blog readers, it is a defined search tool that I've set up using this new rollyo service - I've set it up so that a search can be made across the following sites: this blog, the Information Commissioner's website, the DCA's FOI webiste and the Information Tribunal site. Should be a useful tool when trying to locate FOI related information, guidance, decisions etc and you can't remember the source. The search box will always be available on the right hand menu. Happy to take suggestions of other sites to add.



CIPFA workshop and free download

Conducting an Information and Records Audit to Ensure Good Governance
14th September 2006 (Glasgow) & 19th September 2006 (London)
Further Details


The Role of Corporate Information Management in a Council Strategy is available for free download
Media update

My weekly roundup of selected stories featuring uses of the Freedom of Information Act.......

The Times - How salt campaign was scuppered
"Household names were prominent in campaigning for a gentler approach by the Food Standards Agency, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Waitrose and Nestlé were some of the powerful players who pushed hard to persuade the FSA to adopt less demanding goals, the papers reveal."

eGov monitor- Gateway reviews on ID cards should be made public
"The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has upheld two complaints under the Freedom of Information Act following information requests to the Treasury and the Office of Government Commerce for the Gateway Reviews of the identity cards programme and the programme’s traffic light status."

BBC news - Number of prison escapes revealed
"Figures released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act show 339 prisoners have absconded from the camp since 1996."

BBC news - Northern Ireland - Equality body denies 'jobs bias'
"The Equality Commission has been accused of "hypocrisy" after figures showed its Protestant and male workers were significantly under-represented. The figures were obtained by Castlereagh DUP councillor Charlie Tosh through the Freedom of Information Act."

Daily Mail - £360,000 bill for axed 'Prescott show'
"Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show £180,500 had already been spent on consultants' fees and £108,618 on contractors."

Daily Telegraph - Tragic mistakes in case of mother who jumped under train
"A mother who flung herself under a train with her two young children had told doctors and social workers that she could not cope, a report has revealed....The inquiry report, completed in March and released to The Sunday Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act, provides the first confirmation that Mrs Sidhu was treated for depression."

Independent - Secret nuclear bases to be shown on public maps
"The precise locations of dozens of secret military and spy bases are to be revealed on Ordnance Survey maps for the first time, ending one of the last remaining legacies of the Cold War."

.....also see www.secret-bases.co.uk

Sunday Herald (Scotland)- Will Castro See 80?
"And nobody is watching more closely than the man appointed by US President George Bush as “transition co-ordinator”: Caleb McCarry, head of the Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba (CAFC), whose job description includes overseeing the post-Castro scenario on the island.....But what worries Miller most of all is the British government’s refusal to release any information on a meeting last year between McCarry and the Foreign Office. “There was also a request submitted under the UK Freedom of Information Act to determine the breadth and content of the discussions between our government and Caleb McCarry. This was denied and is now subject to appeal,” he said."

Contractor UK - Work Permits system 'damaging' to UK IT pros
"In line with Contractor UK’s figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Amicus said 30,000 IT permits were issued in the last year – climbing from just 1,800 in 1995."

Local news

Norwich Evening News
- Police defend £500,000 cost of flying
"While many forces elsewhere in the country own helicopters, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed Norfolk police spent £488,681 in 12 months on hiring the vehicles."

Welwyn and Hatfield Times - Complaints against police hit new high
"ALLEGATIONS of brutality and other complaints against the police have rocketed according to figures handed exclusively to the WHT. Over the past year Herts police chalked up more than 700 complaints - a record - covering a variety of areas including assault, neglect, mishandling of property and prisoners. The figures were released to us following a request under the Freedom of Information Act."

This is South Wales - NO TO DEAL'S FINANCIAL DETAILS
"Swansea Council is still refusing to reveal whether any money has been paid from the Asda deal. Despite announcing the sell-off of land in Gorseinon in April, the council will not say whether it has received any money. Evening Post reporters submitted a Freedom of Information request shortly after the deal was announced to ask if any money had changed hands and, if so, how much. That request was turned down on grounds of confidentiality. An appeal was lodged, but Swansea Council has turned that down too."

Bath Chronicle- COUNCIL REVEALS BACKGROUND TO ITS DECISION
"Detailed information on how the council came to introduce controversial changes to waste collections has been released to a group trying to have them reversed. The Royal Crescent Society submitted a raft of questions to Bath and North East Somerset Council under the Freedom of Information Act in a bid to boost its case for the new edge-of-property collection policy to be scrapped."
Confidentiality and Consent in the NHS conference

Following conference might be of interest to NHS Practitioners:

Confidentiality and Consent in the NHS, 10th October 2006, London

An update from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office
Sue Markey, FOI Good Practice Manager, UK Information Commissioner’s Office

Choose and Book
Professor Michael Thick, Senior Medical Advisor to Choose and Book, and National Medical Director to Choose and Book, PACS and MyHealthSpace

Inaccuracy in records
Peter Marquand, Partner, Capsticks

Addressing consent and confidentiality in multi-agency care
Penny Hill, Information Strategy Manager for Social Care in Warwickshire County Council / Care Record Development Board Member, NHS Connecting for Health

How do you balance Information Governance against clinical benefit?
Dr Gillian Braunold, GP National Clinical Lead, NHS Connecting for Health

An update on the issues pertaining to the NHS Care Record service
Michael Richards, Consultant Anaesthetist and Clinical Advisory Group Member, (NHS CRS) for the Southern Cluster

Full details

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Information Commissioner upholds complaints about the Treasury and the OGC related to Identity cards

These two ICO decisions are perhaps the most important the Information Commissioner has issued so far and on a issue that has large public awareness and interest and the ability to impact people's lives. It is information I know many blog readers have been interested in. The delays in the decisions reaching the public domain (the requests were made in 2005) have diminished the information slightly as the ID cards Bill has now passed through Parliament, but the the information still has signifiance as many believe it may be a policy that can be overturned (especially once Tony Blair leaves office). There are more related requests and appeals about the issue in the system still: the Home Office has received requests as well, I know that some people have requested the Governments review of whether ID cards are compatible with the Human Rights Act.

The next question is whether the Treasury and OGC decide to appeal and the case goes to the Information Tribunal (this will of course delay things further).

Also interestingly the complainant for the HM Treasury case was an MP who had first asked for the Information via a Parliamentary question. This links well with the research project I am currently working on MPs usage of the FOIA. Some interim research was published on the blog a few months ago. This case is a good example of an MP using the Act as an follow on from PQs to persue information that is not released to them under a PQ.

I do also wonder whether the DCA will revise their guidance on requests for Gateway reviews in light of this decision. Whilst each request is is taken in its own context, the public interest balance weigned by the ICO in this case does set an important precedent and can this blanket "working assumption" advice for departments hold firm on this issue?

See the Spy UK blog has been actively seeking information using FOIA on the topic.

Case Ref: FS50083104
Date: 31/07/06.
Public Authority: HM Treasury
Summary: The complainant made a request to know the traffic light status awarded to Gateway Reviews of the Identity cards programme which had been carried out by the Office of Government Commerce, an independent office of the Treasury. The information was refused on the grounds that it related to the formulation and development of government policy (section 35) and that disclosure would prejudice the exercise of the OGC's audit functions (section 33). The Commissioner's decision is that the public interest lies in the release of the information and that its release will not prejudice the exercise of the OGC's audit functions.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.33 - Complaint Upheld; s.35 - Complaint Upheld.
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50083104

Case Ref: FS50070196
Date: 31/07/06
Public Authority: Office of Government Commerce (OGC)
Summary: The complainant made a request for information about Gateway Reviews of the identity cards programme which had been carried out by the OGC, who refused to provide the information on the grounds that it related to the formulation and development of government policy (section 35) and that disclosure would prejudice the exercise of its audit functions (sections 33). The Commissioner's decision is that the public interest lies in the release of the information and that its release will not prejudice the exercise of its audit functions.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.33 - Complaint Upheld; s.35 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50070196

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Overseas FOI news

Daily Nation (Kenya)
"At the same meeting, the Government blocked attempts to introduce the Freedom of Information Bill in Parliament before it goes on recess. Its enactment would result in the repeal of the Official Secrets Act and also provide for the whistle blower protection. However, sources said the Government opposed attempts to have the Bill discussed. It also voted against another motion to replace members of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights whose term has expired."

EU (European Union)- Transparency drive extends to EU structural funds
"The EU's current transparency drive challenges national governments with the new requirement to fully disclose information on recipients of EU structural funds. If the European Commission has its way, Member States will be asked to publish detailed data on the recipients, projects and amounts of structural aid cash they receive from the EU."

Bloomberg - Germany Releases Files on Lawmakers Ensnared by Stasi
"The German government released files on members of parliament who were ensnared by East German agents three decades ago, responding to criticism that the office overseeing the documents was blocking access."
Party funding goes debate online - why not FOI?

Government Computing
reports that the DCA are funding an online forum about the future of Party funding: "Sir Hayden Phillips, who is leading the government's review into the issue, announced the launch of the relevant website on 31 July 2006. The Hansard Society is providing technical support.". The website is available here: http://forum.partyfundingreview.gov.uk/. Having bemoaned the lack of consultation and opportunities for debate offered by the DCA over the FOI fees issue, it would nice to see FOI getting the same treatment it is a very suitable issue for this type of forum - as its is a core democratic/accountabilty issue that all citzens poetentially should have interest in and would benefit from a wider debate.
28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners' Conference

The 28th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners will be hosted by the ICO and held in London, 2 and 3 November 2006. The event was originally scheduled for Argentina. This year the programme will be focussed on a single issue: 'A Surveillance Society?'

More details at the Conference website

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Parliamentary update:

Some recent Parliamentary Questions (before recess) about FOI

Written answers Tuesday, 25 July 2006
Constitutional Affairs
Freedom of Information Act
Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire, Conservative) Hansard source

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2006, Official Report, column 1732W, on Freedom of Information, how many complaints (a) are outstanding and (b) have been outstanding for more than (i) three months, (ii) six months and (iii) over six months.

Harriet Harman (Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs) Hansard source

The information requested has been provided by the Information Commissioner.

(a) On 30 June 2006 1,204 FOI complaints were outstanding.

(b) The Information Commissioner's Office measures processing times in terms of calendar dates rather than months.

(i) Of the 1,204 complaints outstanding on 30 June 2006 946 had been outstanding for more than 90 days.

(ii) Of the 1,204 complaints outstanding on 30 June 2006 688 had been outstanding for more than 180 days.

(iii) The answer to (iii) is the same as the answer to (ii).

Written answers Thursday, 20 July 2006
Duchy of Lancaster
Information CommissionerAll Written Answers on 20 Jul 2006

Caroline Spelman (Meriden, Conservative) Hansard source

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans the Cabinet Office has to appeal Information Commissioner ruling FS50086128.

Hilary Armstrong (Minister of State, Cabinet Office) Hansard source

The Information Commissioner has recently issued a decision in relation to Freedom of Information requests for this information. A copy of the Information Commissioner's decision notice and the Cabinet Office's disclosure in response to the decision is available on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/foi/pdf/murdoch.pdf and in the Library for the reference of Members.


House of LordsFreedom of Information

Lord Avebury (Liberal Democrat)

asked Her Majesty's Government:

For each month from January 2005 to June 2006 (a) how many applications for decision were received by the Information Commissioner's Office under Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; (b) how many information notices were issued by the Information Commissioner's Office under Section 51 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the applications received under Section 50 in that month; and (c) how many decisions or enforcement notices were issued by the Information Commissioner's Office for the applications received under Section 50 in that month.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs) Hansard source

The information requested has been provided by the Information Commissioner and is set out in the table below.


Applications under Section 50 Information notices issued under Section 51 for the Section 50 applications Decision notices or enforcement notices for the Section 50 applications
January 2005 19 0 4
February 2005 133 2 28
March 2005 212 2 55
April 2005 290 7 59
May 2005 251 1 31
June 2005 201 3 23
July 2005 274 1 26
August 2005 240 1 9
September 2005 227 0 16
October 2005 190 0 6
November 2005 184 0 7
December 2005 152 0 4
January 2006 228 0 4
February 2006 234 0 0
March 2006 235 0 0
April 2006 221 0 0
May 2006 230 0 0
June 2006 197 0 0
Latest Decision notices

They are coming out thick and fast at the moment....worth noting the Environmental Information Regulations cases emerging, in particular Network Rail.

Case Ref: FS50075960
Date: 31/07/06
Public Authority: London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.31 - Exemption Not Engaged.
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50075960


Case Ref: FS50068026
Date: 27/07/06
Public Authority: BBC

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.40(2) and (3) - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50068026

Case Ref: FS50068239
Date: 27/07/06
Public Authority: Denbighshire County Council
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.40(2) - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.36 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50068239


Case Ref: FS50065294
Date: 27/07/06
Public Authority: Denbighshire County Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.40(2) - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript Decision Notice FS50065294


Case Ref: FS50071795
Date: 27/07/06
Public Authority: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.42 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.44 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50071795


Case Ref: FS5072182
Date: 26/07/06
Public Authority: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.17, s.23, s.24 and s.27 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS5072182


Case Ref: FS5069110
Date: 26/07/06
Public Authority: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Section of Act & Finding: FOI s.10 and 27 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS5069110


Case Ref: FER0087031
Date: 26/07/06
Public Authority: Network Rail

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: EIR r.5(1) - Complaint Upheld; EIR r.6(2) - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FER0087031


Case Ref: FER0071801
Date: 26/07/06
Public Authority: Network Rail

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: EIR r.5(1) - Complaint Upheld; EIR r.6(2) - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FER0071801


Case Ref: FS50072190
Date: 25/07/06
Public Authority: Bexley Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.21 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.31 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50072190


Case Ref: FS50102714
Date: 25/07/06
Public Authority: Ministry of Defence

Section of Act: FOI s.36, s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50102714


Case Ref: FS50101920
Date: 25/07/06
Public Authority: National Savings and Investments

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.44 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50101920


Case Ref: FS50090136
Date: 25/07/06
Public Authority: Office of Fair Trading
.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.44 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50090136


Case Ref: FS50086115
Date: 24/07/06
Public Authority: Carmarthenshire County Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1(1) - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.10 - Complaint Upheld.
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50086115


Case Ref: FS50073979
Date: 24/07/06
Public Authority: Invest Northern Ireland
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.36 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.43 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.1 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50073979


Case Ref: FS50078010
Date: 24/07/06
Public Authority: The Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee for Cheshire on Justices of the Peace

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.31 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50078010


Case Ref: FER0126686
Date: 21/07/06
Public Authority: Health Protection Agency (HPA)

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.41 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FER0126686


Case Ref: FS50086060
Date: 20/07/06
Public Authority: North Yorkshire Constabulary

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.21 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.40 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50086060


Case Ref: FAC50070211
Date: 20/07/06
Public Authority: Treasury Solicitors (TSOL)

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: s.30(2); 31(1)(g) and 42 of FOIA - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FAC50070211


Case Ref: FER0070849
Date: 19/07/06
Public Authority: Mid Devon District Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: EIR 14(3)(b) - Complaint Upheld; EIR Reg 13 - Complaint Not Upheld; EIR Reg 5(3) - Complaint Not Upheld; EIR Reg 12(5)(g) - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FER0070849


Case Ref: FS50070214
Date: 18/07/06
Public Authority: Guildford Borough Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.41 - Complaint Not Upheld; s.42 - Complaint Not Upheld and s.43 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50070214


Case Ref: FS50091488
Date: 13/07/06
Public Authority: Brayford Parish Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1(1) - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50091488


Case Ref: FS50088042
Date: 13/07/06
Public Authority: Crown Prosecution Service

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50088042


Case Ref: FS50087443
Date: 13/07/06
Public Authority: Maldon District Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50087443


Case Ref: FS50075094
Date: 12/07/06
Public Authority: Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1(1) - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.16 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50075094


Case Ref: FS50076657
Date: 12/07/06
Public Authority: Lancashire County Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.40(2) - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.10 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50076657


Case Ref: FS50069116
Date: 12/07/06
Public Authority: Leicester City Council

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.40 - Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50069116


Case Ref: FS50083603
Date: 11/07/06
Public Authority: Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.35 - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.40 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50083603


Case Ref: FS50086063
Date: 11/07/06
Public Authority: The Cabinet Office

Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI s.1, 23, 24 - Complaint Not Upheld; s.17 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50086063

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Media update

The Guardian - Police DNA database 'is spiralling out of control'
"These latest disclosures, which were unearthed following a series of Freedom of Information Act requests by The Observer and the campaign group GeneWatch, will give rise to fears that many DNA samples being collected by police from innocent people could be misused."

The Guardian (Comment is free) - We need the data of death
"It's time the NHS treated us like intelligent human beings and provided us with doctors' survival rates."

The Guardian (letters) - Information access
"Lord Falconer's proposal to find a way in which to deter costly and time-consuming requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (Report, July 31) not only negates the very principle of the act but is also unwarranted. Much of the time and effort spent in local authorities and NHS bodies searching for information is, in many cases, rendered unnecessary by advances in search and retrieval technology.....Glenn Perachio European director, Zantaz."

Sunday Times - Hundreds of police may have criminal records
"SCORES of police officers in England and Wales have convictions for offences including assault, theft, possession of an offensive weapon and actual bodily harm.
Details released by 13 forces under the Freedom of Information Act show that 164 officers have been convicted of offences, some since they joined the police."

Daily Telegraph - Arms row threatens legal crisis
"If the report is released, it could eventually be made public if used as evidence in any court case. A request for the report under the Freedom of Information Act was rejected because of international relations, parliamentary privilege and commercial interests."

IC Wales - Why some authorities do better than others
"The furore that greeted the publication of the local authority education league tables - reported in the Western Mail on Saturday - is not surprising.The information about which local authorities were the most effective in adding value to their pupils had to be extracted from the Welsh Assembly Government using the Freedom Of Information Act, so the data was clearly a hot potato."

The lawyer.com - New Pinsents head targets freedom of information work
"Pinsent Masons has appointed Rosemary Jay to head the firm’s information law practice. Jay takes over from Shelagh Gaskill, who passed away earlier this year. Based in Manchester, Jay specialises in freedom of information. Her priority will be to market the information law practice to the industries set out in the firm’s new core-sector strategy."

Regional News

Belfast Telegraph - Tribunal to decide on council's Ryanair deal
"A last-gasp attempt by Derry City Council to keep its secret deal with Ryanair out of the High Court will be heard at a tribunal in October. The Information Commissioner has confirmed the two-day hearing - sparked off by a Freedom of Information request by the North West Telegraph - will be held in the city's courthouse on October 17 and 18."

Harborough Mail - 2004 parking survey results still not released
"MORE surveys into people's driving habits are to be carried out by Harborough District Council as it tries to develop a 'parking strategy'. But the results of a similar survey completed by 701 people in July 2004 have still not come to light – and the council has said people will have to apply under the Freedom of Information Act to get a look. The council's ruling Liberal Democrat executive committee agreed in principle last month to spend at least £35,000 on consultants to draw up a parking strategy for Harborough. The outcome of the 2004 survey, which cost under £1,000, will form part of the strategy"

South Tyneside Today - COUNTING THE COST
"TWO South Tyneside councillors are under fire today after a furious allowances row broke out. Businessman Peter Shaw carried out his own investigation into the expenses claimed by Cleadon and East Boldon Conservatives Philip Parkinson and David Potts over the last year. Using the Freedom of Information Act, he discovered that Coun Potts claimed £2,251 in travel expenses, which included first-class travel."

Bexley Times - TFL's £520,000 'reckless' ad bill
"The figures were revealed under a Freedom of Information Act request which showed that the thousands of pounds marketing TfL were spent shortly after a £2.6 million television campaign."

IC Surrey - Beetles, droppings, mould - all in restaurant kitchens
"But is this the case in Mole Valley? Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act gave the Advertiser access to environmental health reports carried out at premises across the area in the past year."

Overseas FOI

FT.com - India's official secrecy
"One of the few worthwhile reforms introduced by India's current government is the right to information act. By entitling citizens to seek disclosure of a wide variety of official records it provides a badly needed weapon for combating the corrosive culture of corruption that pervades the country. But less than a year after the legislation took effect, New Delhi plans to remove much of its force."
ICO e-newsletter now on line

The second edition of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) e-newsletter is now available on line.

The second edition includes:

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations Information Tribunal ruling
Passenger name record data
Enforcement action – data protection
Data protection consultation responses
New approach to handling FOI complaints
New policy on publication schemes
Freedom of information case update