Dear Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service,

This FOI request is for the following documents (to be supplied electronically), MFRA stands for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority:-

i) the agenda of the MFRA Audit Committee held on the 18th March 2020,
ii) the draft minutes of the MFRA Audit Committee held on the 18th March 2020 and
iii) any reports that formed part of the public (or private) document pack (other than the agenda at (i)) to the MFRA Audit Committee held on the 18th March 2020.

I remind you of your duty to provide advice and assistance to those making a request (see section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000).

Yours faithfully,

John Brace

Freedom of Information Team, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Requester

  

Thank you for contacting Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.  During the
UK Coronavirus outbreak you may experience a delay in a response to your
request. We appreciate your patience at this challenging time and
apologise for any inconvenience caused.

 

 

Kind regards

The Information Management Team

Freedom of Information Team, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Brace

Please find attached an acknowledgement of you recent Freedom of Information request.

Kind regards

Jackie Sutton
For Information Officer

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Sutton, Jackie, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Brace

 

Please find attached a response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.

 

Kind regards

 

Jackie Sutton

For Information Officer

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http://www.merseyfire.gov.uk/

Dear Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service's handling of my FOI request 'Audit Committee agenda, draft minutes and reports (18th March 2020)'.

Thank you for your refusal of this request, by way of letter dated 8th July 2020 from Jackie Sutton (for Information Officer) - your reference FOI/81/2020 .

In summary, in your 2 A4 page letter you give the section of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for a reason for refusal as section 40 and quote sub-sections 1-3 with reasons given in page 2 of your letter which as they are brief I quote below:-

"The disclosure of the information we hold would breach principle Article 5 (a) – processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. The disclosure of the information would not be fair or lawful to the data subject and the information is therefore exempt from disclosure.

We are particularly mindful that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 works on an ‘applicant blind’ basis and that by providing information to one person we then set a precedent for making it available to anyone else who asks for it."

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There are a number of grounds on which this internal review is sought which are numbered below.

Ground 1 - alleged defects in refusal notice
1. Although, it is acknowledged that your refusal complies with section 17(a) (states the fact of refusal) and section 17(b) specifies the exemption in question, but it is disputed that it complies with section 17(c) (states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies).

You have not explicitly stated (although it can be inferred) that the data subject is an "identifiable living individual" whose personal information is in the information requested. The original request was in three parts and you have not been clear as to whether you are referring to part 1, part 2, part 3 or the request in its entirety. In any event, it is disputed that this would apply to the totality of the information requested as information such as the date, time, location of the meeting are not capable of falling into this category.

Ground 2 - alleged misapplication of section 40
2. It is alleged that you have misapplied section 40, due to nature of the individuals contained within the information requested and existing guidance from the regulator ICO on the application of section 40 - see https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... .

The list of those on the MFRA Audit Committee is already in the public domain on your website, see http://mfra.merseyfire.gov.uk/mgMeetingA... (for the earlier meeting held on the 19th February 2020) - namely Cllrs Andrew Makinson, Del Arnell, Janet Grace, Linda Maloney and Lisa Preston (plus 1 indepenent person Anthony Boyle) and the minutes of the MFRA meeting held on 13th June 2019, see http://mfra.merseyfire.gov.uk/ieListDocu... show the members appointed to the MFRA Audit Committee were Cllrs Steff O'Keefe, Emily Spurrell, Jean Stapleton, Linda Maloney and Andrew Makinson (plus 1 independent person Anthony Boyle).

There is a quorum of 3 for meetings of the Audit Committee, therefore it can be assumed that 3 out of that list of 6 names (which are in the public domain already) would be recorded in the part of the request relating to minutes (part 2). Secondly it is already in the public domain (at the time of the request) as to what the Audit Committee meeting of the 18th March 2020 was about - if you want the specific details as to why please contact me further but in the interests of brevity it is not included here.

Ground 3 - alleged breach of Publication Scheme

Your Publication Scheme is published here http://www.merseyfire.gov.uk/aspx/pages/... . In the section titled "Reports & Minutes of Meetings of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority (except exempt reports)" with a link to http://www.merseyfire.gov.uk/aspx/pages/... - it is obvious from your website that there is no agenda, minutes or reports published. It is a requirement of Freedom of Information Act 2000, section 19(1)(b) that you publish the information in your Publication Scheme, yet you have not at the time of this request, nor explained in your reasons for refusal whether it falls into the "exempt reports" category that you do not publish.

Ground 4 - misapplication of section 40/data protection principle 5

Firstly it is disputed that section 40(1) as it is inferred that the applicant making this FOI request is not any of the individual/s that are named (or referred to in the information requested) as the applicant was not present at the meeting in question.

Secondly, your rationale appears to be a refusal on 40(2)(a)/40(2)(b) and 40(3)(a) grounds with reference to the 5th data protection principle. The 5th data protection principle, see Data Protection Act 2018, section 39 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018... is about:-

"(1)The fifth data protection principle is that personal data processed for any of the law enforcement purposes must be kept for no longer than is necessary for the purpose for which it is processed.

(2) Appropriate time limits must be established for the periodic review of the need for the continued storage of personal data for any of the law enforcement purposes."

You haven't specified in your reasons for refusal whether it is (1), (2) or both (1) and (2) of the fifth data protection principle that you deem applies, but there is insufficient information given in your reasons for refusal as to why time limits on holding data for law enforcement purposes is relevant, how it applies to the information requested, especially as you are not refusing on the grounds that you don't hold the information and as the meeting was on 18th March 2020 and the request was made on the 16th June 2020 this reason for refusal doesn't make sense, especially as it is inferred by your refusal that you hold the information. If your argument was that the information had been previously held, but was no longer held at the time of the request due to a law enforcement time limit, this would make more sense, but the requester is somewhat perplexed by this stated reason for refusal, unless it is a typographical error and you actually meant one of the other 5 data protection principles?

Ground 5

ICO's guidance on "Requests for personal data about public sector employees" can be read here https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... .

You have not explained whether this is special category data or criminal offence data but the guidance linked to above states:-

Page 17 -

"The more senior an employee is and the more responsibility they have for decision making and expenditure of public money, the greater their expectation should be that you disclose their name. However, seniority within the organisational structure is not the sole determining factor. Employees who represent their authority to the outside world should also expect that their authority will disclose their names."

Linked to from that page are ICO decision notices FS50276863, found at https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak... and FS50146907, found at https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak... which details decisions taken by ICO that section 40 doesn't apply to senior public sector managers and certain public facing roles. It is submitted that councillors on MFRA are sufficiently senior and also the category of senior manager that this meeting was about.

There is also existing case law at on the application of section 40 to Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests with regards to the names of public sector employees but as ICO link to decision notices in the guide and you have not explictly stated that the information relates to a junior employee/s in a non public-facing role, I await further clarity and more detail as to what your reasons for refusal are before making detailed submissions on this outlining the current case law and relevant decision notices.

I hope the above clarifies my position that I dispute your refusal on somewhat perplexing grounds and look forward to reading your response to and decision on this internal review request in the near future.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

John Brace

Freedom of Information Team, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Mr Brace

I acknowledge receipt of your request to review your FOI response. We will be in contact in due course.

Kind regards
Jackie Sutton
For Information Officer

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd ScarletPimpernel anodiad ()

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have responded to this internal review request in response to a different FOI request here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l... .