Advice provided by Cherie Booth, QC

john smith made this Freedom of Information request to Liverpool City 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.

Dear Liverpool City Council,

It has been reported that Cherie Booth QC was engaged by LCC to advise on the potential conflict of interest involved in the appointment of David McElhinney as interim Chief Executive of the Council.

I understand, from press reports, that Ms Booth may have provided more than one report or guidance note. It is also possible that other legal counsel may have been sought by the council. It is also possible that you may have taken legal advice concerning another matter which has been reported, namely the appointment of Mr Fitzgerald, the Council's current Chief Executive, as a Director of LDL.

Please publish, in full, all legal advice provided to the Council and paid for from public funds, in relation to the following matters :

1. Any potential conflict of interest arising from the appointment of Mr McElhinney as interim Chief Executive of LCC

2. Any potential conflict of interest arising from the appointment of Ged Fitzgerald as a Director of LDL

Yours faithfully,

John Smith

Kevin Symm, Liverpool City Council

1 Attachment

Please find attached acknowledgement letter
Regards,

Kevin Symm
Senior Information Officer
Legal Services
Liverpool City Council
Municipal Buildings
Dale Street
Liverpool
L2 2DH
TEL: 0151 225 3132
[1][email address]

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Kevin,

Today is the final day available for you to respond to this query. Please do so. Failure to provide a compliant response today will result in an internal review, followed by a complaint to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Symm, Kevin, Liverpool City Council

I am currently out of the office until 3 October 2011

If your email is urgent, or you are submitting a request for information
under either the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Data Protection Act
1998 please forward it to: [email address]

Please note, the request will only be considered received when it is sent
to the information requests email address

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Andrea Glanville, Liverpool City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Smith
Please find response to your request.
Regards
A Glanville

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Dear Liverpool City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Liverpool City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Advice provided by Cherie Booth, QC'.

My concerns are as follows :

1. The LPP exemption can be waived by the client (LCC). I can see no reason why this advice has not been made publicly available. The Council has used legal advice as its defence of the remarkable appointment of Mr McElhinney as interim chief executive, at a time when the council was renegotiating a contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds with Mr McElhinney's company. To claim that legal advice has been provided, and then to refuse to disclose this advice, suggests that there is something to hide. The public interest case is strong - given the magnitude of the contract value, and the lack of precedent for such a conflict of interest, it is in the public interest for the council to explain the legal advice received. I reiterate - as client, you have the option to waive LPP. Please do so.

2. The suggestion in your response that there is no conflict of interest in the current LCC Chief Executive being a director of a company which is a major supplier to the Council is astonishing. You should take legal advice on this matter at your earliest convenience.

I do hope that you will reconsider your position on these matters. I should also state that I am disappointed that your refusal to disclose came on day 20 - I feel that a pattern is emerging here, which should be brought to the attention of the ICO.
2.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Smith

Dear Andrea Glanville,

Could you update me on progress relating to this request for internal review please? It has been some time now.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Glanville, Andrea, Liverpool City Council

Thanks for your e mail, I am away from the office and I will haveno access
to my emails during this time.  Any urgent enquiries please direct to
[email address] or contact the Information & Practice Support
Team  on  225 2709.  If your request is in relation to FOI/DPA please
forward this to [Liverpool City Council request email]  if this is a new
request it will not be considered received by the Council until it is
forwarded to this address.

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Andrea Glanville, Liverpool City Council

Dear Mr Smith
Thank you for your recent email and apologies for the delay in response. 
I can confirm that the review is being conducted by another officer as I
did the original response, however the deadline for response is 11
November 2011.  I am assured that the deadline will be achieved.
Regards
A Glanville

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Dear Ms Glanville,

Thank you for the update - much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Dear Ms Glanville,

Could you update me on progress please?

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Glanville, Andrea, Liverpool City Council

Dear Mr Smith

The officer dealing with your review is on leave today - but back in tomorrow, I will come back to you tomorrow - hopefully with a positive response.

Regards

Andrea Glanville
Legal Services
Liverpool City Council
Municipal Buildings
Dale Street
Liverpool
L2 2DH
Telephone 0151 225 2709
Fax: 0151 225 2392
email: [email address]

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Kevin Symm, Liverpool City Council

2 Attachments

Please find attached response
Please accept my apologies for our delay in responding.
Regards,

Kevin Symm
Senior Information Officer
Legal Services
Liverpool City Council
Municipal Buildings
Dale Street
Liverpool
L2 2DH
TEL: 0151 225 3132
[1][email address]

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Katie M. left an annotation ()

How can some parts of legal advice on a specific issue not be pertinent to a request for the legal advice on the issue?
It's hardly likely that a QC would comment on anything not strictly within the terms of the engagement. Complain.

Dear Mr Symm,

Thank you for your response. Have you read 'Catch 22'? You really should - there's a cracking passage in Chapter One where Yossarian is censoring airmen's letters in hospital, and one day he goes a bit loopy and deletes everything except greetings and goodbyes.

Don't know why that popped into my mind just then . . .

Ah well.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Katie M. left an annotation ()

Since the advice states:

"I have been sent copies of the latest job descriptions (deleted) and of the draft protocol which governs the appoint an (sic) LDL Contract Managing Partner (CMP) to take over complete responsibility for the LDL client function. This will be a new appointment either internally or externally for a period of three months following which a further review will be undertaken to ensure it’s fitness for purpose and further transparency.
I am satisfied that although there are conflicts of interest in relation to Mr McElhinney, there are also compelling business reasons why he is the right person to undertake this job for the next six months and that the current job descriptions and protocol are sufficient to comply with both his own and LCC’s obligations to the district auditors and the council tax payers of LCC (more deletions)...."

The deletions clearly refer to job descriptions and other arrangements for mitigating the conflict of interest - the reason for the advice, and it's obvious that the IC will not allow them.

The other point is the appointment of the Contract Managing Partner. We need to see the protocol and to know who it was, as well as confirmation that the review to ensure the fitness for purpose and transparency of the appointment actually took place (and whether councillors were involved in all this, or whether it was all just a cosy officer thing).