FOI 9714 Statement regarding Anjem Choudhury
Please provide me all emails between the Mayors Office and Takki Sulaiman
from December 13th 2013 to December 22nd 2013 regarding the statement
issued on the Mayors behalf regarding his praise for the Brick Lane protest
undertaken by Anjem Choudhury and his followers.
This would include the original statement and the redrafting of the revised
29 emails fall within the scope of your request. The emails containing the
original statement and revised statement are enclosed.
It is not possible for us to meet your request in its entirety, and two
exemptions have been applied to the rest of the content of the emails.
The retraction of the wrongly issued Press Notice was publicly disclosed and
a replacement Press Notice issued. The disclosure of some internal
discussions would, however, be likely to inhibit the ability of public authority
staff and others to express themselves openly, honestly and completely, or to
explore extreme options, when providing advice or giving their views as part
of the process of deliberation. The rationale for this is that inhibiting the
provision of advice or the exchange of views may impair the quality of
decision making by the public authority.
The requested information contains the personal data of other people,
providing names and contact details of staff not in public facing positions, and
external organisations. Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act sets
out an exemption for third party data if disclosure of the information to a
member of the public otherwise than under FOIA would contravene any of the
data protection principles (section 40(3)(a)(i)).
The first data protection principles states that we can only disclose personal
data if to do so would be fair, lawful and meet one of the conditions in
Schedule 2 of the DPA (and in the case of sensitive personal data, a condition
in Schedule 3)
This means that, if the disclosure would not be fair, the information must not
be disclosed. It is considered that the provision of this information would not
be fair as the person it relates to would not expect the information to be
released in this way. This is an absolute exemption and the information
cannot be provided to you.
The Head Of Communications Tem is responsible for the service. The council
has a duty to protect the interests of junior members of staff and the release of such
emails would expose them to unnecessary publicity whether or not they were named.
Neither statement committed public funds or changed council policy nor is there any
suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of officers. There is therefore no public interest
justification in releasing these emails.
Effective Conduct of Public Affairs
some of this information is exempt pursuant to section 36(2)(b)(i) and
36(2)(b)(ii) and 36(2) (c ) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Section 36(2)(b)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been applied
in that that disclosure would inhibit the imparting or commissioning of advice.
It is subject to the public interest test.
The incident that this FOI refers to, namely the retraction of a press statement
wrongly issued on 12 December 2013 in the Mayor’s name. Therefore, the
manner in which it was to be dealt with was the subject of discussions and
deliberations amongst council officers.
The disclosure of these discussions would reveal internal thinking processes,
inhibiting the imparting or commissioning of advice. Many of the discussions
included the consideration of options, and were therefore ‘works in progress’.
In this case, it is felt that these early considerations are a reflection of the free
and frank advice and for provision for the purposes of deliberation as outlined
in Section 36 (2) above and that these considerations were undertaken in
preparation of the council’s response.
We therefore consider that this information is exempt under section 36(2)(b)(i)
Factors in favour of publication
The Council wishes to be open and transparent about its business and takes
active steps to keep the people of Tower Hamlets informed of its work. This
consideration means there is an assumption that information will be
The public has a right to know the Council’s decisions as they affect the
community it serves and information should be published wherever possible
Factors against publication
The contents of the emails include considerations that were not a formal
council discussion. They represent opinions and views rather than facts. They
would not further the understanding of and participation in a public debate but
would serve to confuse matters as they represent consideration of options
rather than of Council decisions.
Disclosure would not promote accountability and transparency as it would
mean that at future meetings officers would not be able to have a free and
frank exchange of views.
Having weighed the factors both for and against disclosure it is my judgment
that the public interest will not be served by disclosing all emails exchanged in
relation to the council’s handling of the plans for this programme.
You have the right to complain to the Council about this decision. If you wish
to do this please write to:
Corporate Complaints Unit
Tower Hamlets Town Hall
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG
If you are subsequently not satisfied with the Council’s response to your
complaint you have a right of appeal to the independent Information
Information Commissioner’s Office
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
Further information about the operation of the act is available from the
council’s website www.towerhamlets.gov.uk and the information leaflet in
public reception areas in Council buildings.