Nid ydym yn gwybod a yw'r ymateb mwyaf diweddar i'r cais hwn yn cynnwys gwybodaeth neuai peidio - os chi ywF Thompson mewngofnodwch a gadael i bawb wybod.

Evidence of the decision-making process which led to the selection and appointment of Sir Amyas Morse

We're waiting for F Thompson to read a recent response and update the status.

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

Information released within FOI2020/00559 shows that an unnamed official in HM Treasury wrote to Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, on 06 September 2019, copying in Beth Russell, Director General, Tax and Welfare.

This email to Tom Scholar started "I understand Beth spoke to you yesterday about the decision to approach Amayas Morse and ask him if he would be willing to take on the role of leading the review of the loan charge. We’ve drafted a script for you to use in the call."

Please provide full and comprehensive details of all recorded communications and evidence (including, but not limited to reports, documents, notes, meeting minutes, emails, SMS messages, WhatsApp messages, computer files, letters and any sound or video recordings) between Beth Russell and any other individual prior to 06 September 2019 containing any reference to this subject, and which culminated in the final decision to select and approach Sir Amyas Morse to head the government's review into the Loan Charge.

Please also provide similar details (noting that individual names can be redacted whilst enabling the substance of the debate around their suitability or otherwise to be published) of how many other potential candidates were considered for this role, and specifically what criteria was used by HM Treasury and government officials to determine how Sir Amyas Morse was considered as more suitable in experience than a wholly independent and qualified tax judge, or indeed any other possible candidates for the appointed task.

Yours faithfully,

F Thompson

eCase@hmtreasury.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/09786

Dear F Thompson,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear F Thompson

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear HM Treasury Information Rights Unit,

Thank you for your reply and for the confirmation that you hold this information.

I am uncertain as to why you would respond by saying that there is a requirement for a number of officials to search their records (which is quite unnecessary), when I have only asked for the recorded communications and evidence that pertain specifically to those exchanged by any individual with one person - Beth Russell. Surely, in any reasoned and sensible interpretation of that request, it therefore only requires Beth Russell's records to be searched and no others?

Perhaps it is because I have used the phrase 'prior to 06 September 2019'. If that is the case, then please search Beth Russell's recorded communications and evidence between 28 June 2019 and 06 September 2019, which amounts to just 50 working days. I fail to accept that a search of one person's records over such a short period of time on the referenced subject would be either onerous, or unachievable within the available time limits.

All other aspects of the request, such as the types of recorded communications and evidence, the details of other potential candidates, criteria used by HM Treasury and government officials etc. remain unchanged.

Yours sincerely,

F Thompson

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/15854

Dear F Thompson,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear F Thompson

 

Please find attached an interim reply to your Freedom of Information
request of 7 June 2021.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Rights Unit

 

Information Rights Unit |Correspondence and Information Rights Team |
Corporate Centre Group |Ground Floor Orange| HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards
Rd, London, SW1A 2HQ | [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

 

This email and any files transmitted with it are intended solely for the
use of the individual(s) to whom they are addressed. If you are not the
intended recipient and have received this email in error, please notify
the sender and delete the email. This footnote also confirms that our
email communications may be monitored to ensure the secure and effective
operation of our systems and for other lawful purposes, and that this
email has been swept for malware and viruses.

References

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Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for this update and your confirmation that a substantive reply will be made by 03 August 2021, or sooner if possible.

The Information Commissioner's Office document detailing the public interest test (in relation to the FOIA) references many significant indicators, not least those which are contained within the overview in the opening pages:

'The authority must consider the balance of public interest in the circumstances of the request.'
'There will always be a general public interest in transparency. There may also be a public interest in transparency about the issue the information relates to. The authority should consider any public interests that would be served by disclosing the information.'
'If there is a plausible suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the public authority, this may create a public interest in disclosure. And even where this is not the case, there is a public interest in releasing information to provide a full picture.'
'Arguments based on the requester’s identity or motives are generally irrelevant. Arguments that the information may be misunderstood if it were released usually carry little weight.'
'The authority must consider the relative weight of the arguments for and against disclosure. This can be affected by the likelihood and severity of any prejudice; the age of the information; how far the requested information will help public understanding; and whether similar information is already in the public domain.'

Given the many thousands of citizens and their families so adversely affected by the retrospective policy known as the Loan Charge, and the deep distrust of HM Treasury which has since formed as a result of their refusal to acknowledge, or act upon the concerns raised by the Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group in their published report on the 'independent' review carried out by Amyas Morse (link below), then one could reasonably suggest that the public interest test is served by this fact alone. However, when there is also 'a plausible suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the public authority' - as in this specific case, and as served, evidenced and proven by the content of the Loan Charge APPG report - then one could perhaps be even more assured that any reasonable person would conclude that the public interest test is already clearly met. I feel confident that the hundreds of MPs who remain members of the Loan Charge APPG (now reformed as the Loan Charge and Taxpayer Fairness APPG) would undoubtedly welcome such a conclusion.

There is indeed 'a public interest in transparency about the issue the information relates to' - this is further evidenced by the continued debate being raised in Parliament by those MPs vehemently opposed to this policy and who are STILL unwaveringly representing the interests of their affected constituents. Only today, at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, the very FIRST question raised was on the subject of the retrospective Loan Charge by John McNally MP, demanding answers from a government who have, to date, categorically failed to provide a single meaningful, transparent or truthful response.

What is 'the likelihood and severity of any prejudice'? The only comment you have made in your reference to the specified exemption is that it might 'inhibit the free and frank exchanges of views of the purposes of deliberation'. The review is complete. The report has been published. The government has placed the policy on the statute book. So what, precisely, is still being 'deliberated'? What 'views' are being 'inhibited'? As to the 'age of the information', the longer HM Treasury withhold, the more significant any non-disclosure will become to those victims and their families, with more potential suicides, more bankruptcies, more marital / relationship breakdowns, and more people pleading with their MP to help. Until the truth is eventually revealed about this policy, those hundreds of MPs and their constituents will continue to demand justice - and the disclosure of information such as that requested is an integral part of this process. Exactly 'how far the requested information will help public understanding' will be determined by the public themselves following full disclosure, and not by HM Treasury's ever-weakening assurances that this was, by any stretch of the imagination, an 'independent' review.

http://www.loanchargeappg.co.uk/wp-conte...

Yours sincerely,

F Thompson

Dear FOI Requests,

You provided what was categorised as an interim reply on 06 July, which I responded to on 07 July.

This interim reply stated "we therefore expect to provide our substantive reply by 3 August 2021".

You have failed to do this, and it now makes your already delayed response a further three days overdue. I therefore ask you to supply the information immediately, in order to avoid and counter any suggestion - reasonable though that suggestion appears in the circumstances - that you are deliberately stalling your reply in order to further hinder and obstruct my request.

Yours sincerely,

F Thompson

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Dear Mr Thompson,

Please accept our sincerely apologies for the delay in responding to your
FOI request and the delay in updating you further.

As we explained to you on 6 July 2021, by virtue of section 10(3) of the
FOI Act, we are considering the information that we have identified in
relation to your request under section 36 of the FOI Act, which relates to
prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs.
 
We are continuing to work on your request but are not yet in a position to
provide you with the outcome of our considerations.

We aim to respond to you by 1 September 2021.

We will, of course, reply sooner if possible.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights Unit

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear F Thompson

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your response from 01 September.

I would like to make it clear, from the outset of this follow-up message, that this is NOT a request for an internal review at this stage.

As a point of correction, your reply from 01 September indicates that the initial request in this thread was dated 09 March 2021, when it was actually 10 March 2021. Please would you kindly amend your records to help rectify that mistake.

In order to provide clarity and a mutual understanding on the accuracy of the documented timeline of this request, I have listed the relevant dates below:

10 MAR 2021 - request submitted (delivered to [email address] on same day)
11 MAR 2021 - FOI reference number confirmed by HM Treasury as FOI2021/09786
09 APR 2021 - FOI2021/09786 refused under Section 12 of the FOIA
07 JUN 2021 - follow-up message submitted to narrow scope of request (delivered to [email address] on same day)
08 JUN 2021 - new FOI reference number confirmed by HM Treasury as FOI2021/15854
06 JUL 2021 - interim reply provided by HM Treasury, confirming consideration of qualified exemption under Section 36 of the FOIA, with a revised date for substantive reply of 03 AUG 2021
07 JUL 2021 - follow-up message submitted to challenge claimed use of qualified exemption under Section 36 of the FOIA (delivered to [email address] on same day)
06 AUG 2021 - follow-up message submitted to note failure to meet deadline of 03 AUG 2021 alongside request to provide information immediately (delivered to [email address] on same day)
09 AUG 2021 - another interim reply provided by HM Treasury, confirming continued consideration of qualified exemption under Section 36 of the FOIA, with a revised date for substantive reply of 01 SEP 2021
01 SEP 2021 - FOI2021/15854 refused under Section 36(2)(b)(i), 36(2)(b)(ii) and 36(2)(c) of the FOIA

It is clear from the above timeline that you responded to my initial FOI request (FOI2021/09786) on the 20th working day following receipt. The ICO guidance on Section 10 (Time for compliance with request) of the FOIA states that authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response. The guidance continues by stating that when an authority which provides its response close to, or on, the final day of the 20 working day limit, it ought to be able to both account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply with the request.

On that occasion, you simply replied on the 20th working day following receipt, thereby meeting your statutory obligation on the last possible date.

It is also clear from the above timeline that you responded to my next request (narrowed by date range and thus allocated a completely new FOI reference) on the 21st working day following receipt. This breaches the FOIA and indicates a failure to meet your statutory obligation. You included in this reply the information that you were considering the use of a qualified exemption under Section 36(2)(b)(ii)of the FOIA and a revised date for substantive reply of 03 August 2021 (a further 20 working days later).

The ICO guidance is very clear on the time limits available to public authorities in this regard. Please see the relevant extracts below:

63. As section 10(3) only permits extensions for further consideration of the public interest, the additional time cannot be used to determine whether the exemptions themselves are engaged.
64. This means that the authority should have identified the relevant exemptions, and satisfied itself that they are applicable, WITHIN THE INITIAL 20 WORKING DAY LIMIT.
65. Any authority claiming an extension will still be obliged to issue a refusal notice explaining which exemption applies and why WITHIN 20 WORKING DAYS. This notice must explain that it requires more time to consider the public interest test, and provide an estimate of the date on which a final decision is likely to be made.

As you failed to meet the statutory deadline for responding to this request, it is clear that the request for an extension to consider the public interest test and the qualified exemptions you claim are engaged was therefore invalid - and subsequently cannot be invoked. As you will be aware, section 10(3) has a reliance on the time by which any notice under section 17(1) must be given, which is within the time for complying with section 1(1) - not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.

Expanding this point yet further, the ICO guidance includes the following:

62. The Act does not define what might constitute a ‘reasonable’ extension of time. However, our view is that an authority should normally take no more than an additional 20 working days to consider the public interest, meaning that the total time spent dealing with the request should not exceed 40 working days. An extension beyond this should be exceptional. Examples of such circumstances could include extreme pressures placed on the public authority by a major incident or exceptional levels of complexity involving a number of external parties. Public authorities will need to demonstrate that the length of any time extension is justified.

Not only have you failed to meet the initial statutory deadline in this case, you have then proceeded to exceed what the ICO define as an 'exceptional' time limit of 40 working days whilst in the process of considering that public interest test. Your most recent response on 01 September 2021 was a full 61 working days after the request was submitted, which falls far beyond what the ICO define as 'exceptional' and which would require the authority to evidence and justify such a delay - which in this instance amounts to an extended duration of more than fifty percent beyond what is already (and clearly) defined as 'exceptional'.

Furthermore, the ICO guidance confirms the rules covering the authority's use of Part II exemptions:

11. If an authority is relying on one of the exemptions in Part II of the Act to either refuse to confirm or deny whether information is held or to refuse to provide information, then under section 17(1) it has a duty to issue the requester with a refusal notice within the time for compliance with section 1(1).

On this occasion, you did not.

12. As outlined earlier, the time for compliance with section 1(1) is defined by section 10(1), which means that the notice must be issued promptly and within 20 working days of the date of receipt of the request.

Again, on this occasion, you did not.

I now reiterate the comments from my follow-up message of 07 July 2021, where my challenges to your proposed use of this exemption were explicitly outlined and summarised - which now undeniably hold an even greater weight and appear even more significant and important in the context of this evidential timeline. Although these points were ignored and quite obviously set aside by your own one-sided considerations with regard to the public interest test, your subsequent failure to meet your statutory obligations has therefore negated the citation of this (or indeed any Part II) exemption in any response you make.

Based on this clear and unambiguous set of rules from the ICO and the law as laid out by the Freedom of Information Act, I now request that you provide all the information (which you have already confirmed you hold) as requested - immediately, and without any further delay.

Yours sincerely,

F Thompson

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Dear F Thompson,

Thank you for your email regarding your request for an internal review.

I can confirm that your review request was received on 24th September and
is receiving attention under our reference IR2021/22683.

There is no statutory deadline for responding to internal review requests.

However, in line with the Information Commissioner's guidelines and the
[1]2018 FOI Code of Practice, we aim to complete  internal reviews within
20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ  
[2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear FOI Requests,

I did NOT - repeat DID NOT - request an internal review. I refer you to my comments at the start of my most recent message, which you could not possibly misinterpret:

"I would like to make it clear, from the outset of this follow-up message, that this is NOT a request for an internal review at this stage".

Please therefore withdraw the internal review, confirm that you have done so and deal with it in accordance with the statutory timescales as laid out in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours sincerely,

F Thompson

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/22729

Dear F Thompson,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear F Thompson

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Her Majesty's Treasury's handling of my FOI request 'Evidence of the decision-making process which led to the selection and appointment of Sir Amyas Morse'.

Thank you for your reply from 18 October, where you belatedly confirm that you refuse to consider or address any of the points I made in my follow-up communication dated 24 September using the Freedom of Information reference you subsequently supplied on 29 September, in response to that very communication.

Your clear intention to force me to internal review in order that you address those points is noted. I therefore request that all comments contained within that communication of 24 September are considered and addressed as an integral part of this internal review. Given the nature of the wording and the intransigence demonstrated in your most recent response, it is highly likely - perhaps one could even claim as guaranteed - that this will be nothing more than a charade, and something which you will treat as a mere formality prior to this request being escalated to the Information Commissioner's Office. You will also know that the Information Commissioner's Office are attempting to deal with a backlog of some 2000 cases (according to evidence given at a recent PACAC session), which will further hinder any legitimate attempt by a member of the public to expedite disclosure of this important and significant information.

It would be reasonable to conclude, following the unacceptable duration of 61 working days which it took you to provide your response dated 01 September, that this internal review request might well be deliberately subjected to the same lengthy delays by those responsible for these continued obstructions within HM Treasury. I await this process with little, if any optimism that the principles, ethics, standards and intentions of the Freedom of Information Act, as passed by Parliament and enshrined in UK law are being upheld by HM Treasury, and are instead, simply being eroded, sidestepped and ignored.

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

Yours faithfully,

F Thompson

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Dear F Thompson,

Thank you for your email regarding your request for an internal review.

I can confirm that your review request was received on 3rd November and is
receiving attention under our reference IR2021/25860.

There is no statutory deadline for responding to internal review requests.

However, in line with the Information Commissioner's guidelines and the
[1]2018 FOI Code of Practice, we aim to complete  internal reviews within
20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ  
[2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

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1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear F Thompson

Please find attached a response to your recent IR request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Nid ydym yn gwybod a yw'r ymateb mwyaf diweddar i'r cais hwn yn cynnwys gwybodaeth neuai peidio - os chi ywF Thompson mewngofnodwch a gadael i bawb wybod.