68 Tottenham Court Rd - Scientology rates exemption?

William Thackeray made this Freedom of Information request to Camden Borough Council

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

The request was partially successful.

William Thackeray

Dear Camden Borough Council,

In respect of the following property:

68 Tottenham Court Road
W1T 2EZ

please provide details of any application for mandatory or discretionary relief from non-domestic rates which has been made (or which continues to apply) at any time over the past 5 years.

If such an application has been made, please provide:

- a copy of the application and all documents supplied in support of it.

- the Council's decision whether or not to apply the relief, and the reasons behind that decision.

- any other information held (including but not limited to internal and external correspondence and email, agenda, minutes and phone records) concerning the application and the decision.

Please provide the information in electronic format.

Thank you for your assistance with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

William Thackeray

Favell, Sylvie, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Thackeray

Please find attached acknowledgement to your recent request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours sincerely

Sylvie Favell
PA to Deputy Director of Finance
Directorate - Finance
Finance
London Borough of Camden

Telephone: 020 7974 5547
Web: [1]camden.gov.uk

Room 200E
Town Hall Extension (Finance)
Argyle Street
London WC1H 8NG

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e-mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer

References

Visible links
1. http://www.camden.gov.uk/

Kate Loomer, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Camden Council - Information request (FOI/EIR) - Finance

Our reference: 6557079

show quoted sections

Loomer, Kate, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Thackeray

Please find attached response to your FOI request.

Regards.

Kate Loomer
FOI Officer
Finance Department
London Borough of Camden
Tel: 020 7974 5025
This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e-mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer

William Thackeray

Dear Camden Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Camden Borough Council's handling of my FOI request '68 Tottenham Court Rd - Scientology rates exemption?'.

My reasons for requesting an internal review are:

1. In respect of CBC's reason 1 ("it would prejudice on going investigations relating to the administration of justice, which could subsequently pre-empt the outcome of these investigations"): The release of this information would have no impact upon the assessment or collection of tax. If this matter is 'sub judice' then please state the details (e.g. court and parties involved) of the case. If this property, or if Scientology, are currently under investigation by the police or by CBC, then please state this. The mere possibility of a future investigation is not relevant to the release of this information under FOIA.

2. In respect of CBC's reason 2 ("Releasing the information may prejudice the security of the Council's network meaning that the Council's regulatory activities are undermined and the Council may also be facilitating access to otherwise confidential information"): The release of this information would have no impact upon the security of the council's computer network. If you intended some other meaning of 'the council's network' then please explain more clearly.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/68...

Yours faithfully,

William Thackeray

Swingler, Peter, Camden Borough Council

Dear William Thackeray

I refer to your email dated 1 September 2010

It has been accepted as an application for an Internal Review under the
Freedom of Information Act.

The Panel will consider it at its session on 28 September 2010. I will
communicate with you thereafter to let you know their decision.

Yours sincerely

Peter Swingler
On behalf of the Internal Review Panel
FOI Act
LB of Camden
2/9/10
This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e-mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer

William Thackeray

Many thanks, Peter.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray

Swingler, Peter, Camden Borough Council

I am out of the office from 2.15 pm today. I will pick up on messages on
Friday

Please refer any urgent matters to either John Hail on 0207 974 5644 or
Stewart Holmes or Vivienne Caswill on 0207 974 5367

The emergency contact number for out of hours for service issues is 0207
974 4444

Please redirect any Freedom of Information Act matters to the FOI Records
Team Telephone 020 7974 7857

Thank you

Peter Swingler
Head of the Central Complaints Unit
LB of Camden

This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e-mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Your request has now been considered and we are unable to provide you with any of the information that you have requested. Under section 31(1)d of the Freedom of Information Act, it creates an exemption from the right to know the above if releasing the information would or would be likely to prejudice:

• The assessment or collection of tax or duty or of imposition of a similar nature.

The public interest arguments for releasing this information are as follows:

* To release the information would show accountability for the actions of the Council and its officers

The public interest arguments for withholding the information are as follows:

* it would prejudice on going investigations relating to the administration of justice, which could subsequently pre-empt the outcome of these investigations.

*Releasing the information may prejudice the security of the Council's network meaning that the Council's regulatory activities are undermined and the Council may also be facilitating access to otherwise confidential information.

On balance we feel the public interest is better served by withholding this information.

Peter Swingler, Camden Borough Council

Camden Council - Information request (FOI/EIR) - Finance

Our reference: 6557079

show quoted sections

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

ICO line to take on 'likely to prejudice':

http://foiwiki.com/foiwiki/index.php/Lin...

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Swingler, Peter, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear William Thackeray

Please find attached a copy of the decision reached today by the Panel on
your related appeals

Yours sincerely

Peter Swingler
On behalf of the Internal Review Panel
FOI Act
LB of Camden
28/9/10
This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e-mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Attachment says:

Date: 28 September 2010

Ref: RFI 6511284 and RFI 6557079

Enquiries: Peter Swingler

E-Mail: [email address]

William Thackeray

[FOI #44898 email]

Dear William Thackeray

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Request for Information about Scientology Rates exemption (?) in respect of 68 Tottenham Court Road and 37 Fitzroy Street - Application for Internal Review

I refer to our acknowledgement email dated 2 September 2010. The Panel notes that you have made two related requests for information (17 August 2010 and 26 August 2010) and so has chosen to deal with both together.

We have considered your appeal against the decision in relation to your request for access to information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We have also considered information from the Access to Information Office in Camden, the Finance department and Camden's legal Services regarding the Council's initial response to your request.

Our decision is that your appeal is unsuccessful.

The Panel has noted that the reasons you give for requesting an internal review involve you questioning the application of an exemption under Section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act. You question the public interest arguments for withholding the information you have requested.

The Panel has looked back at your initial request for information, as well as the Refusal Notice issued by Lesley Pigott dated 1 September 2010, before coming to a view on the merit of your appeal.

The first part of your initial request was to seek details of any application for mandatory of discretionary relief from non-domestic rates which have been made (or which continues to apply) at any time over the past five years, in respect of the Church of Scientology's occupation of premises at 68 Tottenham Court Road and 37 Fitzroy Street.

The Panel considers that it would be in accordance with the general principles of the Freedom of Information Act, to allow a partial answer to the first part of your request for information. The Panel confirms that the organisation concerned has at one time made an application for mandatory relief from non-domestic rates. Consequently all of the information you have requested is information held by the Council.

The Panel then went on to consider whether any of the information held by the Council might be released to you. However the Panel is minded that owing to ongoing investigations into the assessment and collection of tax the Council should not release any of the information to you at this time.

The Panel confirms to you that all of the information held is subject to a qualified exemption under Section 31: Law Enforcement. In addition, in relation to some of the information held, namely information relating to the reasons for the Council's decisions, are subject to an additional qualified exemption under Section 42: Legal Professional Privilege.

The Panel agrees with the previous reasons set out in the reply of 1 September 2010, namely an exemption applies under Section 31 (1) (d) of the Freedom of Information Act because releasing the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice the assessment or collection of tax or duty or of imposition of a similar nature.

Any exemption under sections 31 and 42 are both subject to the public interest test. The Panel therefore has weighed the public interest arguments for releasing or withholding the information.

The public interest argument for releasing the information would be to show accountability for the actions of the Council and its officers

The public interest arguments for withholding the information are:

*

It would prejudice on going investigations relating to the administration of justice, which could subsequently pre-empt the outcome of these investigations.
*

Releasing the information may prejudice the security of the Council's investigation procedures meaning that the Council's regulatory activities are undermined and the Council may also be facilitating access to otherwise confidential information.

In the Panel's opinion, the same arguments relating to public interest apply to Section 31 and Section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Panel considers that the public interest in withholding the information held by the Council outweighs the public interest in releasing it, at this point in time.

For all the above reasons, this reply constitutes a Refusal Notice under the Freedom of Information Act.

You include in your application for review communication a further request for details of Court and parties involved, where the matter is `sub-judice'. The Panel confirms that such information might be disclosed in due course once any Court proceedings commenced.

If you are not satisfied with the manner in which your appeal was handled you should contact the Information Commissioner within two months of receiving this letter. The Information Commissioner will not consider complaints outside of this timeframe, except under exceptional circumstances. He can be contacted at the Information Commissioner's Office Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.
Telephone: 01625 545 700
www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Peter Swingler

On behalf of the Internal Review Panel

FOI Act

LB of Camden

28/9/10

3

William Thackeray

Dear Peter,

I'll be appealing this one to the Information Commissioner, as a number of other local authorities (City of London, Birmingham, Sunderland) have released similar information without problems.

However, I'd like to thank you and your colleagues on the panel for your time and attention on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Referred to ICO 28 September 2010.

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

NB they say that matters are 'sub judice' but court proceedings have not yet commenced.

This must be wrong in law because information is only sub judice once court proceedings *have* commenced.

"Matters are considered to be sub judice (Latin for 'under judgment') once legal proceedings become active.

Criminal proceedings are deemed active once a person is arrested, a warrant for arrest has been issued, a summons has been issued or a person has been charged and remain active until conviction. Civil proceedings become active, in England, when the hearing date for the trial is arranged and, in Scotland, when the parties' pleadings have been finalised and the record is closed."

http://www.out-law.com/page-9742

Roland Rashleigh-Berry left an annotation ()

"Sub judice" for civil proceedings is treated differently than for criminal proceedings according to this article:

http://www.out-law.com/page-9742

"Civil proceedings become active, in England, when the hearing date for the trial is arranged.."

This looks to be civil proceedings so if a date for civil court action has been set then their response is correct.

Roland Rashleigh-Berry left an annotation ()

I am guessing this will be a simple and inexpensive court action to recover business rates as described in the following document. But we don't know the details at this stage. It could be that they are already getting 80% charitable rates relief and they are refusing to pay the remaining 20% and claiming they are entitled to top-up rates relief.

http://www.lincoln.gov.uk/Info_page_two_...

Warby, Michael, Camden Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Thackeray,

Please find attached our response to your requests made under the Freedom
of Information Act.

I await your further correspondence.

Kind regards

Michael Warby
Access to Information Officer - FOI & DPA
Legal Services
London Borough of Camden

Telephone: 020 7974 7857
Web: [1]camden.gov.uk

219
Camden Town Hall (Legal Services)
Judd Street
London WC1H 9LP
DX 2106 Euston

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e-mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer

References

Visible links
1. http://www.camden.gov.uk/

William Thackeray

Dear Michael,

Many thanks to you and your colleagues for your assistance on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray

Anastasia left an annotation ()

Why did this have to take this long?

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

No idea. I'm not clear whether or not this is in response to an informal recommendation by the ICO. It may be.

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Attachment 1 reads:

London Borough of Camden
Access to Information Team
Legal Services
Room 219
Camden Town Hall
Judd Street
WC1H 9LP

e-mail: xxx@xxxxxx.xxx.xx
Direct: 020 7974 2269
www.camden.gov.uk

Date: Thursday, 13 January 2011

Ref: RFI6511284 & RFI6557079

Dear Mr Thackeray,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

I am writing to you concerning your recent Freedom of information requests, which were concerning the following:

6511284
In respect of the following property:

68 Tottenham Court Road
W1T 2EZ

please provide details of any application for mandatory or
discretionary relief from non-domestic rates which has been made
(or which continues to apply) at any time over the past 5 years.

If such an application has been made, please provide:

- a copy of the application and all documents supplied in support
of it.

- the Council's decision whether or not to apply the relief, and
the reasons behind that decision.

- any other information held (including but not limited to internal
and external correspondence and email, agenda, minutes and phone
records) concerning the application and the decision.

6557079
In respect of the following property:

37 Fitzroy Street
London, W1T 6DX

please provide details of any application for mandatory or discretionary relief from non-domestic rates which has been made (or which continues to apply) at any time over the past 5 years.

If such an application has been made, please provide:
- a copy of the application and all documents supplied in support of it.
- the Council's decision whether or not to apply the relief, and the reasons behind that decision.
- any other information held (including but not limited to internal and external correspondence and email, agenda, minutes and phone records) concerning the application and the decision.

Please provide the information in electronic format.

After consultation with the Information Commissioner, it has been decided that the following points of your request need to be address by the London Borough of Camden:

1) Details of any application for mandatory or discretionary relief from non domestic rates which has been made (or which continues to apply) at any time over the past 5 years.
2) If such an application has been made, a copy of the application and all documents supplied in support of it.
3) The council’s decision whether or not to apply the relief and the reasons behind that decision.
4) Any other information held (including but no limited to internal
5) and external correspondence and email, agenda, minutes and phone records) concerning the application and the decision.

Please find my responses relating to both mandatory and discretionary relief from non domestic rates below:

Mandatory Rate Relief Application

1. COSRECI made an application to the London Borough of Camden for Mandatory Rate Relief as a Charity on the 16th February 2007.

2. Copy of the application and documents supplied in support of it attached.

3. The Council does not apply mandatory rate relief to COSRECI. The reasons it does not apply are as follows;

(a) COSRECI does not meet the criteria of being established for charitable purposes as it does not meet the jurisdictional requirement.

(b) COSRECI does not meet the criteria for a charity established for the advancement of religion (worship of a supreme being)

(c) Even if COSRECI were to be considered to be for the advancement of religion under the Charities Act 2006 (which is not accepted by the London Borough Camden), the requirement of Public Benefit is not satisfied because;

a. The benefits are focused on Scientology adherents – the core activities of auditing are private benefits concentrated on adherents.
b. Any benefit to the Community is incidental to the private benefit derived by adherents.
c. Donations are a general requirement for the auditing that is the core activity of the College.

(d) The Charities Commission letter dated 24th November 2009 confirmed that “It remains the view of the Charity Commission that the Church of Scientology is not established for charitable purposes or for the public benefit and is therefore ineligible for registration as a charity under the Charities Act 1993. The Commission maintain the same view about COSRECI. The decision of the Commission made in 1999 remains valid.”

4. The London Borough of Camden believes that this request is too broad and we wish to know what specific information and from whom is required? As to comply with this question would require 3 different departments to perform a search of both electronic and hard copy materials and would equate to more than the 18 hour limit set by the Act.

5. Please see response to question above.

Discretionary Rate Relief

1. COSRECI made an application to the London Borough of Camden for discretionary rate relief just prior to the beginning of the Financial Year of 2008.

2. Camden’s Regeneration and Partnerships section deals with discretionary rate relief. The electronic folder in which the information relating to COSRECI is stored became corrupt and since it has been repaired that team have not been in a position to locate any documentation relating to the application or any documents supplied in support of it.

3. The Council does not apply discretionary rate relief to COSRECI. The reason it does not apply discretionary rate relief is that COSRECI does not meet the London Borough of Camden’s criteria, for the following reason:

• COSRECI has a London-wide or national remit and does not solely or even primarily serve London Borough of Camden residents. Therefore it was not eligible for discretionary relief.

4. The London Borough of Camden believes that this request is too broad and we wish to know what specific information and from whom is required? As to comply with this question would require 3 different departments to perform a search of both electronic and hard copy materials and would equate to more than the 18 hour limit set by the Act.

5. Please see response to question above.

I apologise that it was not brought to your attention prior to this correspondence that it would take over 18 hours to supply other information that is held concerning the application and the decision. This issue did not become apparent until my involvement with the Information Commissioners Office and my investigations that I carried out as part of my involvement. I am hopeful that we can assist you in obtaining the information that you seek and to that end I will await your further response.

Yours sincerely

Michael Warby
Access to Information Officer

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Attachment 2 is the Scientologists application form for rates relief. Apologies for OCR errors.

Church Of Sclentology Religous Education College
cto Hodkin & Co
42-44 Copthorne Road
Felbridge
East Grinstead
RH192NS
Date
Our ref
Your ref
Enquiries to
Direct line
Fax
Textlink
Email
: 14 February 2007
: 6819687x, 68196913
: Mr G Griffiths
: 020 7974 6460
: 020 7974 6450
: 02079746866
: brates@camden.gov.uk
, ,
()Camden
Finance Department
CouncilTax & Business Rates
London Borough of Camden
TOIM1 Hall
Argyle Street
LondonWC1 H 8NH
brates@camden.gov.uk
revenues@camden.gOY.uk
WvWI.camden.goY.uk
APPLICATION FOR RATE RELIEF AS A CHARITY
Account Reference: 6819687X, 68196913
Address: 35-37 Fitzroy Street
London
W1T6DX
I refer to your recent request in respect of the above. So that your application can be properly
considered you must complete all questions below and return this form together with:-
1. a copy of your latest annual report, audited accounts and balance sheet,
2. a copy of your organisation's Memorandum & Articles of Association. Constitution &
Rules or Trust Deed.
1. What are your main aims and objectives?

[handwriting: "The applicant exists for the benefit of the public at large and the furtherance of the Scientology religion"]

2. Please state your Charity Registration Number

[handwriting: dash]

If exempt from registration please state the reasons>

[handwriting: "South Australian charity". NB the applicant is not in fact registered as a South Australian charity.]

3. Is the property in use?

YES

If YES please confirm the date you moved In to the property

[handwriting: "22/10/2006"]

If NO, lease state the date that ou Intend to move in to the

4. What is the property used for, or will be used for when next in use?
(e.g. Charity Shop, Administration Offices, Community Centre) (Piease continue on. separate shoet if need"

[handwriting: "Museum and community centre"].

5. If used as a Shop. are the goods sold donated, bought in for resale or a combination of both'

[handwiring: dash]

If a combination of both donated and bought in goods please give an estimated percentag
of each.
6. Is any part of the premises used for any purpose other than the work or activities of you
organisation?

NO

If YES, Please provide names of the other occupiers and what they use the property for
7. Do you own the premises?

NO

If NO, Please state the name, address and telephone number (if known) of the owner.

[handwriting: "Heritage Properties International, 6400 Canoga Avenue, Suite 315, Woodland Hills, California 91367"]

I certify that to the best of my knowledge the inforation and statements provided above are
correct.

Signature

[handwriting: unclear signature which may read "Peter Hodkin"]

Name (Please print)

[handwriting: "PETER HODKIN"]

Capacity in which signed

[handwriting: "SOLICITOR"]

Date

[handwriting: "15/2/07"]

Contact Telephone Number

[handwriting: "01342 325765"]

E-Mail Address:

Please return this form and other supporting information to:-
The Business Rates Manager, Council Tax and Business Rates Division, Town Hall, Argyle Street
London, WC1H 8NH
Church Of Scientology Religious Education College In
C/o Hodkin & Company
42-44 Copthorne Road
Felbridge
East Grinstead West Sussex
RH192NS
,
Date
Our ref
Your ref
Enquiries to
Direct line
Fax
Textlink
Email
: 02 November 2006
: 670426831005
: Mrs Watkinson
: 020 7974 6460
: 02079746450
: 020 7974 6866
: brates@camden.gov.uk
()Camden
Finance Department
CouncilTax & Business Rates
London Borough of Camden
Town Hall
Argyle Street
London WC1 H 8NH
brates@camden.gov.uk
revenues@camden.gov.Uk
l'M'W.camden. gov.uk
APPLICATION FOR RATE RELIEF AS A CHARITY
Account Reference: 67042683
Address: 68 Tottenham Court Road
London
W1T2EZ
I refer to your recent request in respect of the above. So that your application can be properly
considered you must complete all questions below and return this form together wlth:-
1. a copy of your latest annual report, audited accounts and balance sheet,
2. a copy of your organisation's Memorandum & Articles of Association, Constitution &
Rules or Trust Deed.
1. What are your main aims and objectives?

[handwriting: "The applicant exists for the benefit of the public at large and the furtherance of the Scientology religion"]

2. Please state your Charity Registration Number
If exempt from registration please state the reasons>
-

[handwriting: "South Australian charity". NB the applicant is not in fact registered as a South Australian charity.]

3. Is the property in use?
If YES please confirm the date you moved in to the property
If NO, lease state the date that ou intend to move in to the
YES

[handwriting: "22/10/2006"]

4. What is the property used for, or will be used for when next in use?
(e.g. Charity Shop, Administration Offices, Community Centre) (Please continue on a separate sheet if
[handwriting: "A centre for introducing people to the work of the Church and for providing assistance to those in need"]

5. If used as a Shop, are the goods sold donated, bought in for resale or a combination of both' --- If a combination of both donated and bought in goods please give an estimated percentag:
of each.
6. Is any part of the premises used for any purpose other than the work or activities of yOUl
organisation? ~/NO
If YES, Please provide names of the other occupiers and what they use the property for
7. Do you own the premises? YES/~
If NO, Please state the name, address and telephone number (if known) of the owner.

I certify that to the best of my knowledge the information and statements provided above are
correct.

Signature

[handwriting: unclear signature which may read "Peter Hodkin"]

Name (Please print)

[handwriting: "PETER HODKIN"]

Capacity in which signed

[handwriting: "SOLICITOR"]

Date

[handwriting: "15/2/07"]

Contact Telephone Number

[handwriting: "01342 325765"]

E-Mail Address:
Please return this form and other supporting information to:-
The Business Rates Manager, Council Tax and Business Rates Division, Town Hall, Argyle Street
London, WC1H 8NH

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Statement from Scientology

http://l.yimg.com/ea/doc/-/100622/statem...

confirms that Scientology is not a registered charity in Australia:

"Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc is an
incorporated non-profit association. Whilst it does have charitable
purposes as laid out in its Rules of Association, it is not a registered
charity in South Australia or with the Australia Taxation Office. Any
claims to the contrary are incorrect and this can be confirmed by
searching on the government website at www.abr.business.gov.au."

Roland Rashleigh-Berry left an annotation ()

It would be useful to have a copy of this letter:

"(d) The Charities Commission letter dated 24th November 2009"

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/en... contains some correspondence between Charities Commission and London Borough of Camden.

Ben Harris left an annotation ()

This request is the subject of the Information Commissioner's decision notice FS50351754:

"In conclusion, the Commissioner is satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the Council no longer holds COSREC’s application for discretionary rate relief, as it was destroyed more than three months prior to the complainant’s request in accordance with the Council’s records management policy. He is therefore satisfied that overall the Council has now complied with section 1 of the Act and therefore requires no further action to be taken. The Commissioner has also found that the Council breached sections 1(1)(b) and 10(1) through its handling of the request."
<http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...>