19th December, 2018

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of Health and Social Care should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

From the information held on file/in diary please confirm whether the Secretary of State was engaged in having Christmas drinks at any time between 18:30 and 23:30 on 19th December, 2018.

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart

Department of Health and Social Care

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Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Hart,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request. (our ref: FOI-1175289) 

Yours sincerely,

Lauren Der 

Freedom of Information team
Department of Health and Social Care

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Social Care, please visit [1]www.gov.uk/dhsc

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Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Health and Social Care's handling of my FOI request '19th December, 2018'.

We note that the data is held but reject any claim that releasing the data would constitute a breach of data protection on the basis that the majority of equivalent requests to other departments have happily provided the data we asked for, whether it be a diary of activities for the day, provision of the day's diary with valid redactions in line with the Official Secrets Act, where third party would be identified, etc. Even the Prime Minister's department provided us with this information.

Additionally the provision of the information requested does not give away any sensitive locations or activities and frankly undermines claims made by this Government to be transparent. To not provide the information held attracts unwanted press attention and is exactly the kind of thing we expose.

We suggest you look at this again with care because any continued attempts to withhold the information which you have on file will result in the matter being taken up with the Information Commissioner.

Here is a selection of equivalent FoI requests where this information was given without issue. Perhaps you can agree to match their content for your Secretary of State.

Prime Minister's Office (Having Christmas drinks/diary data provided)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Department for Work and Pensions (Having Christmas drinks/diary data provided)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Ministry of Justice (No mention of Christmas drinks/diary data provided)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Department of Transport (No mention of Christmas drinks/diary data provided)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Department for Education (Having Christmas drinks/diary data provided)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (No mention of Christmas drinks/diary data provided)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Christmas drinks not mentioned in diary)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Christmas drinks not mentioned in diary)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Department for Exiting the European Union (Christmas drinks not mentioned in diary)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Christmas drinks not mentioned in diary)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK lies and Corruption

Amanda Hart left an annotation ()

Passed onto ICO today.

FreedomofInformation, Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Hart,

The internal review of FOI-1175289 is now complete. Please see the attached letter for the outcome.

Yours sincerely,

Charlene Carter
Freedom of Information Casework Manager
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU

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Dear FreedomofInformation,

Please note this matter was referred to the ICO when the authority did not respond with an internal review within their suggested period of twenty working days [FS50855514].

Thank you for conducting an internal review. We note you listed a different legal finding to the original reason why you didn't want to release the information and we'll address this below.

Anything listed in a Ministerial diary considered to be PERSONAL has no business being listed as anything other than PERSONAL in a works diary. We shall address the point of what is and is not 'personal' below.

To start we ask the question "Would the SoS be taking part in having Ministerial Christmas drinks WITH HIS/HER WORKS DEPARTMENT if he/she was NOT a SoS"? The answer is NO.

Amber Rudd's department (the current SoS for DWP) told us she was having MINISTERIAL Christmas drinks WITH HER DEPARTMENT AS SECRETARY OF STATE. While attendance was optional, it is because she was attending in her capacity of Secretary of State that it cannot be considered personal.

PERSONAL is attending to a family matter, seeing a doctor about a health concern. Those are the types of things which have no business being listed in a Secretary of State's diary. It is our view this is what the creators of the FoIA consider to be personal and certainly agree that this type of information should not be released under the Act, if present.

A DEPARTMENTAL ACTIVITY IS NOT PERSONAL.

Ministerial Christmas drinks is an activity being carried out with his/her department, not with the wife/husband and family. The latter of those is private.

It's also worth noting that creators of the FoIA did not make OPTIONAL activities exempt from release. Personal should not be confused with optional.

As stated above this matter currently rests with the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK lies and Corruption.

Dear FreedomofInformation,

As we informed the ICO, it would be acceptable for you to refuse to provide the information but then go on to state something equivalent to HM Treasury who told us the Chancellor was having Christmas drinks but that was in his role as MP rather than the Chancellor. We feel that's splitting hairs but they apparently do not.

Here is the link to that request: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Perhaps the reason for this could fall under your duty under the Act to provide 'advice and assistance'?

Yours sincerely,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK lies and Corruption.

Amanda Hart left an annotation ()

ICO REF FS50855514

Amanda Hart left an annotation ()

Chased ICO 13th Nov 19

Amanda Hart left an annotation ()

Chased ICO 14th December 2019.