Agreed Departure of Chief Executive Officer Jim Wilkie on 7th June 2012

The request was partially successful.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Today, CEO Jim Wilkie received permission by 7 votes (Labour & Lib Dem) to 3 votes (Conservative) to leave his employment at the council via EVR (Early Voluntary Retirement).

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/974093...

Above is a link to a news story published VERY recently in the Wirral Globe, which reported this matter.

Mr Wilkie himself admitted to years of learning disabled abuse by the council, and this was followed by the departure of two senior social services officers in January of this year. It is still not clear whether these two individuals WERE leaving as a result of their involvement in abuse AND whether they signed compromise agreements with gagging clauses. As of today, despite several assurances, Wirral have not responded to the following FoI request and are many months overdue:

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

The Wirral public are yet to see any sign of accountability or a reckoning towards the as yet anonymous employees who perpetrated this sustained abuse against learning disabled people over a period of several years. There were also abuses of power, as found by two independent investigations - as yet unpunished. Admission to learning disabled abuse here (See 7.1):

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgConvert...

Please provide all information you have which is connected to the departure of Mr Wilkie. This will relate to meetings, hearings, discussions, and may be stored in the form of recorded minutes, verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails, letters, memos, aide memoirs, whether electronically or manually.

Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments made to Mr Wilkie in relation to his departure. This will include precise amounts, the method of payment and the budget from which the payment was derived.

Please confirm details of the existence of any "compromise
agreement" or "confidentiality agreement" signed by Mr Wilkie in relation to this departure or to his involvement in abuse or malpractice. This will include confirmation and description of any 'gagging clauses' and whether a positive / neutral / negative reference was provided regarding potential future employment.

Please provide the names and addresses of all organisations / bodies involved in providing legal advice to Mr Wilkie. Please also provide details of meetings which occurred including times, dates and matters discussed.

Please confirm the details of any disciplinary charges either planned or levelled against Mr Wilkie in relation to any failures / malpractice / abuse which brought about his departure from the Council.

If Mr Wilkie was provided with a "clean bill of health" regarding his time served at the council, please provide a copy of this / these document(s).

Please redact documents as you see fit, and remove any personally sensitive information in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.”

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Technically it was 6:3, as I miscounted because a Lib Dem deputy was used (so I ended up counting the deputy and the absent councillor they were deputising for). Sorry about that.

Mind you it's better than the time that on the same Committtee a Lib Dem councillor was trying to deputise for someone who was no longer a councillor. He was told he couldn't deputise for someone who had resigned.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Agreed Departure of Chief Executive Officer Jim Wilkie on 7th June 2012'.

You have failed to respond to this request. As you are now in breach of the Act, please ask a qualified individual to perform an internal review of this request.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

It's now August. You are in breach of the FOI Act. Please respond with some reassurance, telling me that you have received this request and that you are carrying out an internal review,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Well this answers some of your question:- http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...

For some of the rest see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMJK__LQzW0 .

However even though Wirral Council holds some of the information you request (for example the letter from Jim Wilkie referred to by Chris Hyams) it's going to regard it as exempt or in the "nothing to see here, move along" category.

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning

 

Wirral Borough Council acknowledges your request for information and
further correspondence regards your enquiry and apologies for the delay in
response.  Your request is with the department of Law HR and asset
management and we will respond with any information we can provide as soon
as this information is available.  Thank you for your enquiry.

 

Kind regards

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management

Wirral Council

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

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ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

So Wirral Council acknowledge your request, but blame it on lack of response from the Dept of Law, HR and Asset Management headed by currently suspended Bill Norman, whose acting head is Surjit Tour?

I would expect at the least they would either confirm or deny they have the information requested, but getting information out of Wirral Council is like getting blood out of a stone...

Arthur Hurworth left an annotation ()

No, getting blood out of a stone is much, much easier.
Keep plugging away, sooner or later, possibly later you will get some of the info asked for.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Once again, appealed with the Information Commissioner.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Email received today from ICO after I'd complained in early October:

PROTECT

29 November 2012

Case Reference Number FS50467476

Dear Mr Cardin

Your information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for your correspondence dated, 5 October 2012 in which you complain about Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s failure to respond to your information request outlined below:

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

When considering complaints about delayed or failed responses to information requests our priority is to ensure requesters receive a response as quickly as possible (where one has not been provided) and to monitor any persistent trends which might indicate that a public authority was routinely failing to respond within the statutory 20 working days permitted under section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act.

We monitor complaints where a serious contravention of section 10 is recorded and where persistent contraventions occur we will consider placing a public authority on our monitoring programme (http://www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/prom... ).

I have written to the public authority to provide them with a copy of your original request, reminding them of their responsibilities and asking them to respond to you within 10 working days of receiving our letter. I enclose a copy of my letter to the public authority for your information. The late response will be recorded and as described will form part of our ongoing activity to consider the performance of public authorities and the Freedom of Information Act in the future.

Should you wish the Information Commissioner to issue a decision notice for your specific complaint we are able to do so, however it is important to note that the Commissioner does not need to serve a decision notice in an individual case in order to use that case as evidence for enforcement action.

If Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council responds and refuses to release the information you have asked for and you are dissatisfied, you may, after exhausting their internal complaints procedure, complain to us again.

I have enclosed a fact sheet explaining more about our complaint handling procedures. At this point the case has been closed and I would like to thank you for bringing this these concerns to the attention of the Information Commissioner. If you do not receive a response within 10 working days please contact us quoting the reference number on this letter.

If you require any further assistance then please contact me on the number below.

Yours Sincerely

[Officer name redacted]
Case Officer
First Contact
Information Commissioner’s Office

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Email to ICO, sent tonight:

Case Reference Number FS50467476

Dear [officer name redacted],

I have heard nothing from Wirral Council. I believe the 10 working days that you specified are now up.
I originally lodged this request in June, but have received nothing whatsoever, apart from empty assurances.

I’d be very grateful if you could acknowledged receipt of this email and act upon the situation by taking it to the next stage,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning

 

Thank you for your request below, I would like to take this opportunity to
apologise for the delay in responding to your query, Wirral Council can
respond to your queries as follows, this response has also been copied to
the Information Commissioner’s Office.

 

Wirral Council can respond to your queries as follows:

     

Please provide all information you have which is connected to the

     departure of Mr Wilkie. This will relate to meetings, hearings,

     discussions, and may be stored in the form of recorded minutes,

     verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails, letters, memos, aide

     memoirs, whether electronically or manually.

This information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA
as it contains personal data and Wirral Council consider that it would be
unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and
therefore would be in breach of the 1^st principle of the DPA 1998.
Although this exemption is absolute and the Council do not need to apply
the Public Interest test the council have nevertheless, in coming to this
conclusion considered the legitimate right of the public to official
information and have balanced this with the rights of individuals and
their expectations under the DPA. And have concluded that the information
is exempt from disclosure.

 

     Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments

     made to Mr Wilkie in relation to his departure. This will include

     precise amounts, the method of payment and the budget from which

     the payment was derived.

This information is already in the public domain. Please see the Council’s
statement of accounts at [1]www.wirral.gov.uk

[2]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx...

 

          Please confirm details of the existence of any "compromise

     agreement" or "confidentiality agreement" signed by Mr Wilkie in

     relation to this departure or to his involvement in abuse or

     malpractice. This will include confirmation and description of any

     'gagging clauses' and whether a positive / neutral / negative

     reference was provided regarding potential future employment.

This information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA
as it contains personal data and Wirral Council consider that it would be
unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and
therefore would be in breach of the 1^st principle of the DPA 1998.
Although this exemption is absolute and the Council do not need to apply
the Public Interest test the council have nevertheless, in coming to this
conclusion considered the legitimate right of the public to official
information and have balanced this with the rights of individuals and
their expectations under the DPA. And have concluded that the information
is exempt from disclosure.

 

     Please provide the names and addresses of all organisations /

     bodies involved in providing legal advice to Mr Wilkie. Please also

     provide details of meetings which occurred including times, dates

     and matters discussed.

The Council does not hold this information

 

     Please confirm the details of any disciplinary charges either

     planned or levelled against Mr Wilkie in relation to any failures /

     malpractice / abuse which brought about his departure from the

     Council.

     If Mr Wilkie was provided with a "clean bill of health" regarding

     his time served at the council, please provide a copy of this /

     these document(s).

This information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA
as it contains personal data and Wirral Council consider that it would be
unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and
therefore would be in breach of the 1^st principle of the DPA 1998.
Although this exemption is absolute and the Council do not need to apply
the Public Interest test the council nethertheless, in coming to this
conclusion considered the legitimate right of the public to official
information and have balanced this with the rights of individuals and
their expectations under the DPA. And have concluded that the information
is exempt from disclosure.

 

     Please redact documents as you see fit, and remove any personally

     sensitive information in accordance with the requirements of the

    Data Protection Act.”

This information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA
as it contains personal data and Wirral Council consider that it would be
unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and
therefore would be in breach of the 1^st principle of the DPA 1998.
Although this exemption is absolute and the Council do not need to apply
the Public Interest test  the council have nevertheless, in coming to this
conclusion considered the legitimate right of the public to official
information and have balanced this with the rights of individuals and
their expectations under the DPA. And have concluded that the information
is exempt from disclosure.

 

Thank you for your enquiry.

Kind regards

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management

Wirral Council

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

However, the performance and kid glove treatment of a failed Chief Executive, who, despite being entrusted with a statutory duty to protect, was forced to admit to abusing learning disabled people for over a decade;

... was forced to personally apologise to whistleblower Martin Morton for not acting upon his warnings, later proven to be fully vindicated - AND HOW) after removing him from his livelihood;

... and who ultimately was voted out of his post (by councillors cleared of any wrongdoing within a report (AKA / Anna Klonowski) which appeared to be independent - BUT IN NAME ONLY), literally a few hours before the publication of a damning District Auditor's report into a Highways Contract that was riddled with impropriety - and haemorrhaging millions in public money under HIS watch...

...IS... very much... in the public interest.

This will be appealed to the ICO.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here is a link to an article, setting out what I feel is the background and true motivation behind Wirral Council's very poor response times.

Notably, there are just 2 people dedicated to Freedom of Information and Data at this council (one professional and one admin assistant) - which says it all really.

http://easyvirtualassistance.wordpress.c...

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Lyon, Rosemary A., Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Cardin,

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

 

 

I refer to your request for information dated 7 June 2012, which is
currently the subject of a complaint to the Information Commissioner. The
Council has indicated to the Commission that it will revisit your request,
in order to clarify where it does not hold the information which has been
requested. This response is being copied to the Information Commissioner.

 

 

1. Please provide all information you have which is connected to the
departure of Mr Wilkie. This will relate to meetings, hearings,
discussions, and may be stored in the form of recorded minutes,
verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails, letters, memos, aide
memoirs, whether electronically or manually.

I enclose the Report considered by the Council’s Employment and
Appointments Committee on 7 June 2013. I also enclose the Appendix
referred to in that report and a copy of the relevant minute from that
Committee. This information relates to Mr Wilkie’s application for early
retirement.

 

I consider that other information which you have requested in respect of
the departure of Mr Wilkie, ie, " verbatim and non-verbatim notes,
emails, letters, memos, aide memoirs, whether electronically or manually”
 is exempt information under Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information
Act in that you are asking for information which is personal data, in
respect of which you are not the data subject. I consider that the
disclosure of the requested information would contravene the first data
protection principle, that personal data shall be processed fairly and
lawfully, and shall not be processed unless at least one of the conditions
in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998 is met. I consider
disclosure of the requested information would have an unjustified adverse
effect on the individual, Mr James Wilkie, being the former Chief
Executive of the Council. Mr Wilkie would have had a reasonable
expectation upon his early retirement on 7 June 2012, that his personal
data, apart from the cost to public funds of that early retirement, would
remain confidential.

 

I do not consider that any of the conditions in Schedule 2 would be met
and particularly Condition 6 of Schedule 2 in that the processing would be
unwarranted by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or
legitimate interests of the data subject.  I do not consider that such
processing would be necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests
pursued by yourself as a third party, being a member of the public. I have
considered whether there is a legitimate public interest in disclosure and
balanced this against the rights of the former Chief Executive , Mr James
Wilkie. I consider that disclosure of the information requested would
cause an unwarranted interference with a former employee’s rights, which
outweighs any legitimate interests pursued by yourself as a third party .
 I consider,as detailed above that the first data protection principle
would be breached if the withheld information was disclosed. Mr Wilkie
voluntarily asked for early retirement, and the requested information is
personal information relating to that process. In those circumstances, Mr
Wilkie has a very strong legitimate expectation that his personal data
would not be disclosed to a member of the public and I consider that any
such disclosure would be unfair and not a lawful processing of his
personal data. I do not consider that there is any legitimate interest in
a member of the public being given personal data concerning that early
retirement apart from the Report, Appendix and Minutes of the meeting of 7
June 2012 enclosed above. I consider that you, as a member of the public
does not have a pressing social need, which would require disclosure of
the other information. I consider that your  legitimate interest as a
member of the public has been met by your having access to the Report
considered by the Employment and Appointments Committee giving details of
the cost to the Council of Mr Wilkie being allowed to retire early. Mr
Wilkie would have no expectation that details of his early retirement,
beyond what was available in the information provided in open session at
the meeting on 7 June 2012,would be disclosed to any member of the public
in response to a freedom of information request.

 

I have had regard to relevant guidance from the Information Commissioners
office and relevant case law including the First Tier Tribunal case of

Gibson,  the Information Commission and Craven District Council. (
EA/2010/0095) . Paragraph 43 of that decision states:-

“We accept that there is a category of data - information that might
belong in a personnel file within the human resources department of a
public authority, such as pension contributions and tax codes - that comes
into existence whilst acting in one’s professional capacity, which is
nevertheless inherently private and would attract a very strong
expectation of privacy and protection from the public gaze. “

Paragraph 53 provides :-

“we find that the legitimate interests of members of the public outweigh
the prejudice to the rights, freedoms or legitimate interests of the
ex-CEO only to the extent that the information concerns the use of public
funds “

I consider that it is also relevant to have regard to the consequences for
Mr Wilkie, if this information were disclosed. It is now over a year since
he took early retirement. If the withheld information were to be disclosed
, I consider that this would  cause prejudice to his rights and freedoms
as the data subject and that the information already put into the public
domain will meet the needs of a  member of the public.

 

I. consider  that this is an absolute exemption and not subject to the
public interest test. I therefore confirm that the Council still seeks to
rely on the exemption contained in Section 40(2) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

2.Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments
made to Mr Wilkie in relation to his departure. This will include
precise amounts, the method of payment and the budget from which
the payment was derived.

 

No severance payment was made to Mr Wilkie. The actuarial cost to the
Council of allowing Mr Wilkie to retire early was £111,054.

 
3.Please confirm details of the existence of any "compromise
agreement" or "confidentiality agreement" signed by Mr Wilkie in
relation to this departure or to his involvement in abuse or
malpractice. This will include confirmation and description of any
'gagging clauses' and whether a positive / neutral / negative
reference was provided regarding potential future employment.

 

There is no compromise or confidentiality agreement between Mr Wilkie and
the Council.

4.Please provide the names and addresses of all organisations /
bodies involved in providing legal advice to Mr Wilkie. Please also
provide details of meetings which occurred including times, dates
and matters discussed.
 

The Council holds no such information

5.Please confirm the details of any disciplinary charges either
planned or levelled against Mr Wilkie in relation to any failures /
malpractice / abuse which brought about his departure from the
Council.

 

No disciplinary charges were planned or leveled against Mr Wilkie. The
Council does not hold the information sought.
6 If Mr Wilkie was provided with a "clean bill of health" regarding
his time served at the council, please provide a copy of this /
these document(s).

The Council holds no such information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Rosemary Lyon,

Solicitor,

Legal and Member Services,

Transformation and Resources,

Wirral Borough Council

 

 

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