Tony Redmond's 2005 Australian study tour feedback/report

Pauline Nunn made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

I would like all the information which Tony Redmond produced during 2005 in order to convey to Commission members and staff what he had learnt, at taxpayers expense, during his study tour of Australia.

Yours faithfully,

Pauline Nunn

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

Curious and curiouser

Minutes from their June 2005 meeting state

Australian Study Tour

"Tony Redmond tabled a paper which summarised the main points raised in discussions with other Ombudsmen in his recent study tour. He explained that the discussions had been in confidence to encourage frank exchange, and so the paper would be a confidential record (section 41 FOIA applies). If there was sufficient interest he could provide an open note. The confidential paper was noted by the Commission."

So we have his trip to Australia (mostly paid for by taxpayer) kept secret until it was all over, then all the information he obtained due to the trip also kept confidential. Even going so far as pre-empting any future FOI request by stating that section 41 of the FOI would apply.

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Section 41 only applies where disclosure of information to the public would constitute an actionable breach of confidence.

In all cases where the decision is taken to withhold information it is important for Departments to ensure that there are clear reasons for the refusal to disclose which will stand up to scrutiny by the Information Commissioner and, ultimately, the courts. It is essential that reasons for decisions are properly recorded and that there is an audit trail to demonstrate how those decisions were reached. In particular, this must show why the public interest in favour of keeping the confidence was not outweighed by any countervailing public interest in disclosure.

It think it would be very difficult for the CLAE to now argue that what they had learnt from a 2005 study tour of Australian Ombudsmen, paid for by the British public, was still, if it ever was, subject to section 41. Particularly since the audit trail leads back to Tony Redmond just telling them it was confidential in 2005 The commission may have noted his 'confidential paper but made no decision it would, or should, remain confidential or be subject to section 41 at the time.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mrs Nunn

Our ref: CS/10/091

This is to acknowledge receipt of your I request below received on 2 August. I will respond within the 20 working day target (which would be by 31 August 2010) or, if unable to do so, I will write to you again explaining why.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mrs Nunn

I am afraid there is going to be a slight delay in dealing with your request below. This is due to some people involved in putting together the response being on annual leave. I hope to be able to provide a response by early next week. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Local Government Ombudsmen's handling of my FOI request 'Tony Redmond's 2005 Australian study tour feedback/report'.

Failure to provide a response within a reasonable time.

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

Yours faithfully,

Pauline Nunn

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Mr Redmond must have had the time by now to cobble something together.

If Mr Karney can fabricate some none existing minutes of a meeting that supposedly agreed Mr Redmond's Australian trip surely Mr Redmond can do the same regarding the lessons he learnt on behalf of the Commission on his taxpayer funded trip to Australia.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/re...

It would appear that the commission, at their then secret meeting also agreed to fund an upgrade based on an unwritten policy for long haul flights.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/to...

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

2 Atodiad

Dear Mrs Nunn

I attach a letter from Mr Karney, and a redacted paper referred to in his letter.

We apologise for the delay in responding to your request. This was largely due to people involved being on leave for part of the period.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd A Johnson anodiad ()

So Mr Redmond went all the way to Australia, on behalf of the Commission at great expense to the taxpayer, to obtain information that could have been obtained by the average 8 year old child via the Internet with just a few searches/emails or the old fashioned way with a few letters/telephone calls.

Gadawodd Anne Hide anodiad ()

"The only document which we still have in our records is Mr Redmond's report to the Commission."

Over 40 days to extract a document they had on file!!

Looks to me like the delay was down to the time they needed to fabricate another document which didn't exist in 2005.

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

In light of the response above

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

Gadawodd robin ford anodiad ()

The following was my annotation to my request "Ombudsmen - England" which revealed that in nine years Tony Redmond only visited nine Ombudsmen in England. "So, not very keen on visiting Ombudsmen then. But he was very keen indeed to have the taxpayer foot the bill for him to visit Ombudsmen in Australia with his wife. Wonder why!"

Gadawodd Anne Hide anodiad ()

As with other taxpayer funded institutions, pre John Bourne scandal, many CEO/Commissioners were at it and saw it as a perk of the job. No proper scrutiny with very little chance of being exposed. Furthermore, WDTK didn't start until 2008!

Since 2008 it has become easier for members of the public to apply the scrutiny that our elected representatives have, until a scandal breaks in the press, been reluctant to implement.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1...

"The man who was virtually impossible to sack finally agreed to retire yesterday, after a furore over the six-figure taxpayer-funded expenses bill he racked up travelling the world, often with his wife."

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

"Mr Redmond has advised me that some of the content of his report is still sensitive and should remain confidential, honouring that undertaking. These parts of the text have been deleted in the attached copy (I have marked where a deletion has been made."

It would appear that other commission members and staff are nothing more than Tony Redmond's puppets and do as they are told.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Local Government Ombudsmen's handling of my FOI request 'Tony Redmond's 2005 Australian study tour feedback/report'.

Before I submit the reasoning behind my request for an internal review I would like the name of the person who would be conducting this internal review.

Obviously Mr Karney, who usually conducts internal reviews, couldn't and neither could Mr Redmond because it is clear that he told Mr Karney what to do.

As soon as I have the job title/name of the independent person who will conduct my internal review I will forward my reasoning of why Mr Karney was wrong. If you can't find an appropriate person to conduct an internal review I will not waste my time and bypass the usual internal review stage and submit a complaint to the ICO.

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

Yours faithfully,

Pauline Nunn

Gadawodd A Johnson anodiad ()

For those who want to follow in Mr Redmond's footsteps without any cost to the taxpayer or themselves, you can find everything you ever wanted to know about Australian Ombudsmen here

http://www.anzoa.com.au/index.html

Gadawodd Anne Hide anodiad ()

The Victorian Ombudsman works in a similar way as the LGO.

As one Victorian Minister stated on retirement

"None of these bodies submit themselves to any outside scrutiny or accountability for their actions. The former Minister made a compelling and measured argument yesterday that they ought to answerable to the public who pays the bills"

"Our investigative agencies also have the power to inquire into any agency or citizen. However, what they also need to show is that they are capable of having themselves subjected to accountability and independent scrutiny."

"There has been significant public criticism, for example, of the Ombudsman,"

"More generally, the Ombudsman has been criticised for destroying reputations on the flimsiest of evidence that would not stand up in court, and yet there is no mechanism for independent scrutiny of his actions."

http://www.vexnews.com/news/8419/a-law-u...

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

"Alison Maynard (Financial Industry Complaints Services Ombudsman)"

Alison Maynard was Chief Executive of the Financial Industry Complaints Services in 2005 she was not an Ombudsman. She didn't became an Ombudsman until 2008 when they established the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Since 2008 she has been the Ombudsman for Investments, Life Insurance & Superannuation.

http://fos.org.au/centric/home_page/abou...

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&sou...

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mrs Nunn

Dr Jane Martin, the Vice Chairman of the Commission and Local Government Ombudsman, will be carrying out the review you have requested below.

If you would like to submit your reasoning for the request, I will forward this to Dr Martin.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Foi Officer,

Thank you for confirming that Dr Jane Martin will be conducting my internal review, I will forward my complaint, about the way in which my FOI request was handled, within the next few days.

Yours sincerely,

Pauline Nunn

Dear Foi Officer,

My complaints about the way in which my Freedom of Information request was handled.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/to...

1) Failure to respond within the statutory time frame.

I submitted my request on Saturday the 31st July and received an acknowledgement on Tuesday the 3rd August. On the 31st August after the 20 working day statutory time limit had expired I received notification from Ms Pook that there would be a slight delay. On Friday the 17th September I submitted a request for an internal review. On Wednesday the 22nd September I belatedly received some of the information I had requested together with an apology for the delay.

Whilst I appreciate Ms Pook informed me that there would be a slight delay and apologised for it, the actual delay turned out to be 17 days longer than the 20 statutory limit. Something that no reasonable person would argue was a slight delay. When you take into consideration both Mr Karney and Ms Pook confirmed that the information requested was held and available, 37 days is an inordinate length of time just to redact a very small number of bullet points from a document.

2) Failure to conduct an internal review when requested.

I submitted a request for an internal review about the inordinate delay. I appreciate that events may have overtaken my request when the information was finally released. However, that does not excuse the fact that my initial request for an internal review, based on your failure to meet your statutory obligations, was ignored. Necessitating the addition of that complaint to this second request for an internal review about Mr Karney's decision to redact some of the information I sought.

3) Redaction of information.

The information I sought was initially wrongly categorised as confidential by Mr Redmond during June 2005. This occurred when he tabled a paper which summarised the main points raised in his discussions with other Ombudsmen in his recent study tour. He simply stated that the discussions had been in confidence to encourage frank exchange, adding that the paper would be a confidential record and that section 41 FOIA applied.

Although Mr Redmond's confidential paper was noted by the commission, they undertook no scrutiny to confirm that section 41 of the FOI Act did in fact apply. Or that there was any need to label or keep the document, paid for by the Commission, a taxpayer funded institution, confidential.

The reason for the creation of the document must also be taken into consideration together with the involvement of Mr Karney who later decided to exclude some of the information requested on public interest grounds.

Mr Redmond was initially invited to the Australian CPA convention because he was a Fellow of the Accounting Association. This was obviously a personal invite because an accounting body was inviting an ex accountant and fellow to their convention. The fact that Mr Redmond was a Local Government Ombudsman was wholly immaterial to that invitation.

Following the CPA invitation, Mr Redmond personally decided to expand his visit to Australia to include a study tour of Australian Ombudsmen and include a personal holiday with his wife.

However, when Mr Karney presented the proposals to the Commission, inviting them to pay for Mr Redmond's flight to Australia, the document wrongly stated that the trip was primarily for business and any personal element would be incidental (when in reality the reverse was true). This suggested to the Commission members that 'appropriate business travel based on the bonafide nature of the trip ought to be recoverable'.

It is patently obvious that the initial and primary purpose of Mr Redmond's trip to Australia was to fulfil a personal invitation by the CPA to attend their convention. With the study tour added as an after-thought in an attempt to persuade the other Commission members to pay for his flight to Australia.

The report also states that the study tour part of the trip would probably comprise presentations to office staff, together with a discussion about the respective schemes and what can be learnt from each other.

Therefore, the purpose of the incidental study tour was clearly for this reason.

The outcome of Mr Redmond's study tour was the document I requested. The majority of which has been provided (about 96% of the bullet points and 89% of the text) the rest being redacted by Mr Karney.

It is quite clear, from the information provided so far, that the document in question should never have been categorised as confidential, let alone worth the cost of visiting Australia to collect. All the information provided so far could have been obtained from the internet without even visiting Australia. In addition, it was ridiculous for Mr Redmond to attempt to classify information that is publicly available as confidential, let alone ludicrously suggest that section 41 FOIA applied.

Furthermore, whilst I could understand some details of his study tour remaining confidential, the report produced by Mr Redmond contains NO detail at all. It consists of bullet points only. Mr Redmond himself states 'What follows is my summary of the study tour but I am happy to elaborate on any of the points raised if this would be helpful.'

How could anyone categorise a five and a half year old bullet point summary, with no detail, as confidential and against the public interest to disclose? Please note, I am not asking for Mr Redmond to elaborate on his bullet point summary, I only want to view an un-redacted version of the only tangible document still in existence that could possibly justify his taxpayer funded trip to Australia.

There is a strong public interest in identifying how Mr Redmond can continue to justify his trip to Australia at public expense. Particularly, since the only positive outcome for the Commission is a document which only contains information which is, and was in 2005, easily obtained with a Google search or by email to the particular Ombudsman.

When he provided a redacted copy of the information I sought, Mr Karney 'stated that Mr Redmond advised him that some of the content of his report is still sensitive and should remain confidential, honouring that undertaking. These parts of the text have been deleted in the attached copy (I have marked where a deletion has been made).'

Therefore, I must also raise a possible conflict of interest when Mr Karney took the decision to redact a very small part of the document on the sole advice of Mr Redmond.

Firstly, Mr Karney was instrumental in obtaining Commission funding for Mr Redmond's trip to Australia. Therefore I believe his view, when he took the decision to redact a small part of the document, was coloured by a potential public outrage regarding this taxpayer funded Australian trip. Especially when this produced only few well known and very public facts about Australian Ombudsmen easily obtained in a couple of hours.

In addition, Mr Karney was also involved in the belated production of the minutes that authorised Mr Redmond's Australian trip five years after the event. In essence Mr Karney is too personally involved to be impartial.

The bottom line is that the public paid for Mr Redmond's flights to Australia and they have a right to see the end result of that visit, even if it is only a bullet point summary of publicly available information. Whilst I appreciate that the un-redacted document may embarrass the Commission I do not accept that this is a valid reason for redaction.

Finally, I am sure you are aware that 'the Information Commissioner will only support redaction on public interest grounds where there is a wide-ranging and severe prejudicial effect on the ability of a
public authority to carry out a core (rather than a subsidiary or support) function and where this effect would (rather than would be likely to) occur.'

As far as I am concerned, and I am confident the Information Commissioner or tribunal will agree, the release of this document in un-redacted form is unlikely to effect or have any impact on your 'core function' and accordingly I look forward to receiving an un-redacted version as soon as possible.

Please let me know if you require any further information or links to any particular documents.

Yours sincerely,

Pauline Nunn

Gadawodd mark price anodiad ()

Well put, can't argue with that.

Me, not them, that is, of course!

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

FOI Act shines a torch on public services, says Information Commissioner.

“Freedom of Information has a key role to play in helping to deliver greater transparency and accountability. These are key priorities in public policy”, says Information Commissioner Christopher Graham in a message to mark International Right to Know Day.

http://foia.blogspot.com/2010/09/foi-act...

Gadawodd Anne Hide anodiad ()

Dr Jane Martin's judgement will be very interesting, will she expose or join the cabal?

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

It will, if nothing else, demonstrate the integrity of the Vice Chair of the Commission for Local Administration.

Gadawodd Anne Hide anodiad ()

I think the cabal will want to drag things out until after Mr Redmond has retired.

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

I think Ms Pook and Mr Karney have already achieved that.

http://ombudsmanwatchers.org.uk/blogs/?p...

Look at the date of my request

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/to...

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

Only 15 working days to go before Redmond retires and that could include annual leave he has accrued or carried forward.

http://lgowatcher.blogspot.com/2010/10/a...

Gadawodd mr j garlits anodiad ()

OK. You've got me. I've lost the will to live.

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

I am sorry you are having so much trouble understanding the issues at hand. Therefore, I will try and explain.

The information sought could be very embarrassing to Mr Redmond, therefore, the LGO would prefer to delay the things until after he has gone. Which isn't necessarily the official date he retires because of accrued annual leave. However, in delaying they are weakening their argument regarding confidentiality.

Gadawodd mr j garlits anodiad ()

Trevor. LoL

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

2 Atodiad

Dear Mrs Nunn

I attach a letter from Dr Martin in response to your request for a review. I also attach a revised version of the report previously sent by Mr Karney.

Dr Martin has asked me to ask you to acknowledge receipt of this communication.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Foi Officer,

Thank you for conducting the internal review. I shall now submit a complaint to the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Pauline Nunn

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Complaint submitted to the ICO.

Gadawodd Trevor R Nunn anodiad ()

Rather than in the public interest was this information refused/delayed by the LGO to save any embarrassment to Tony Redmond during the run up to the New Year Honours List?

If so it worked, arise Sir Tony (Anthony Gerard Redmond).

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http:...

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Case Reference Number FS50358027

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Just received the hard copy decision notice in the post. Whilst upholding the LGO's decision to redact on public interest grounds there are a couple of very interesting paragraphs which makes chasing the remaining redacted information somewhat unnecessary. More when I have scanned and put the file through ocr so I can copy and paste the interesting paragraphs.

Gadawodd J A Giggins anodiad ()

Watching this with great interest. Well done Pauline!
Would you able to provide a link to the source of your comments re the public interest tests applicable to redacted information?

Many thanks in anticipation.

Gadawodd J A Giggins anodiad ()

PS This is the comment I am referring to, copied from your internal review request:

Finally, I am sure you are aware that 'the Information Commissioner
will only support redaction on public interest grounds where there
is a wide-ranging and severe prejudicial effect on the ability of a
public authority to carry out a core (rather than a subsidiary or
support) function and where this effect would (rather than would be
likely to) occur.'

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Various ICO documents refer to this in one way or another including a number of decision notices. I think I originally read it in a decision notice but the document below also mentions it.

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

Gadawodd Pauline Nunn anodiad ()

Extract from the document linked to above

The Information Commissioner is most likely to find an opinion to be overridingly reasonable in substance where there is a wide-ranging and severe prejudicial effect on the ability of a public authority to carry out a core (rather than a subsidiary or support) function and where this effect would (rather than would be likely to) occur.

Gadawodd Alex Skene anodiad ()

The ICO Decision Notice is now available on their website:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...

"The complainant requested a copy of a report prepared by the Local Government Ombudsman following a visit to numerous Ombudsmen in Australia. A copy of the report was provided to the complainant however some information was redacted on the basis that section 36(2)(b)(ii) and 36(2)(c) applied. On review the LGO confirmed its reliance on that exemption, although one additional section of information was provided to the complainant.
The Commissioner's decision is that the LGO was correct to apply section 36(2)(b)(ii) to the information. He has also decided that the LGO breached section 10(1) in not providing the information within the required 20 day period"

Regards
Alex - WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer