Commissioning of Independent Investigation

Waiting for an internal review by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council of their handling of this request.

Hi Jane

I would be grateful if you could provide me with the following information

Details of any primary legislation or other statutory instrument that Wirral Council must comply with, when commissioning independent investigations.

Wirral Councils own policy on the commissioning of independent investigations.

A link to the minutes of the relevant Council Meeting showing endorsement of this policy.

Details of the procurement / purchasing conditions that the Council must comply with, when commissioning an independent investigation.

In reference to the investigation of over-charging in DASS supported accommodation, the basis by which the independent investigators were selected.

The designations of the Council Officers responsible for selecting the independent investigators.

In reference to the investigation of over-charging in DASS supported accommodation, any briefings, background papers etc. (with appropriate deletions in order to comply with DPA) that were issued as part of the commissioning / procurement of the independent investigation. In particular any document which clairifies the remit and scope of the independent investigation.

I would be grateful if you could confirm acknowledgment of this FOIA Request

Thanking you in advance for your time

Natasha Eubank

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

This email confirms receipt of your enquiry

show quoted sections

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

I believe the reponse to my original query is now overdue.

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

Not only have you singularly failed to address my query within the specified timeframes for responding, you have demonstrated the most stunning lack of courtesy by failing to offer an apology for the lateness of your response.

As there has been no request for clarification of the points raised in my original query, I can only assume your response is imminent.

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning,
Your request is currently with our legal section and I am awaiting a
reply from them, until which time I am unable to respond to you.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager

show quoted sections

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

I find your response wholly unacceptable and therefore I request that this email is treated as a formal complaint, to be treated as such under the Councils complaints procedure.

As a public authority you are required to inform me as to whether you hold the information requested and if so, communicate that information to me, promptly but not later than 20 working days after receipt of request. This has not been done.

I have not been asked to clarify any of the details relating to my request, therefore the 20 working day time limit began on the day I made my request and the clock has not stopped / reset since the date of my original request.

My original email contained requests for a number of pieces of information, some of which are easily accessible, and, I would assume have previously been made public in the past. You were required to release this information within the 20 day timeframe, even if you required further time to determine whether exemptions apply to the remaining pieces of information. This has not been done.

Finally, I find the lack of courtesy demonstrated by the failure to offer an apology particularly disturbing.

I intend to write to the Information Commissioner to advise him of this matter and will also ask him/her to consider Wirral Councils inability to respond to other FOIA requests within the specified timeframes

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

Dear Sir or Madam,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Commissioning of Independent Investigation'.

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

Perhaps somebody can find it in themselves to actually action this request this time , bearing in mind the complete and abject failure to respond to any of my other correspondence.

Yours faithfully,

Natasha Eubank

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

Please provide me with an update on the status of my request for an internal review

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

John H Hutchinson left an annotation ()

I sympathise and empathise with you, Natasha, as I and others that I know have experienced similar problems on other matters on many occasions. We have complaints with ICO and LGO.

John H Hutchinson left an annotation ()

Natasha, you have been treated very badly. Everything that you say is correct and you must pursue this with ICO. I would be grateful to know how you get on.

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

My request for an internal review was made on the 30th November. You have failed to address my request for internal review within the timeframes as set out by ICO.

Frankly, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Your handling (or lack of) this FOIA request has been nothing short of disgraceful.

This will be referred to ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

Should there be any doubt as to the chronology of events surrounding this FOIA request, please visit:

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

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning,
I am so sorry for the delay in responding to your request for an
internal review. Our Legal section is currently reviewing your internal
review; I will contact the Legal section and ask for a progress report.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager

show quoted sections

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

It has now been over 4 months since my original request. I have received no response. I requested that one of my earlier emails be consituted as a formal complaint, to be treated as such. I have received no response. I requested an Internal review. I have received no response.

Jane, put quite frankly, the ICO is going to have a field day with this.

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Eubank

Lyon, Rosemary A., Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Ms Eubank,

I refer to your email of 30 September 2009 in which you made a Freedom of
Information request concerning the Commissioning of Independent
Investigations. You raised a series of queries. I am responding to that
initial request:

1.Details of any primary legislation or other statutory instrument that
Wirral Council must comply with, when commissioning independent
investigations

The Council does not hold information of the description specified in the
above query. Legislation both primary and secondary can be found on

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/

2.Wirral council's own policy on the commissioning of independent
investigations.

The Council does not have such a policy

3.A link to the minutes of the relevant Council Meeting showing
endorsement of this policy.

There are no such Minutes

4.Details of the procurement/purchasing conditions that the Council must
comply with, when commissioning an independent investigation.

The Council has Contract Procedure Rules which must be complied with in
any procurement/commissioning. Rule1.2.2 provides that the Contract
Procedure Rules do not apply to: (i) Contracts of employment . Cabinet at
its meeting on 24 September 2009 resolved that the Director of Law, HR
and Asset Management, be instructed to commence an investigation into the
treatment of a former employee in relation to allegations of bullying. I
consider that as the investigation relates to a former employee, who had a
contract of employment with the Council, the Contract Procedure Rules
would not apply to the commissioning of an investigator.

5.In reference to the investigation of over-charging in DASS, the basis by
which the independent investigators were selected.

The commissioning of an independent investigation relates to allegations
of bullying in respect of the treatment of a former employee and not to
over-charging in DASS. I consider that the basis by which the independent
investigator was selected is exempt information under Section 40 (3) (a)
(i) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as the information
constitutes personal data and the disclosure of the information to a
member of the public would contravene any of the data protection
principles. I consider that personal data was provided by the potential
investigator to enable a selection to be made. Disclosure of the basis of
selection would mean the disclosure of such personal data and would
contravene the data protection principle that personal data shall be
obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not
be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those
purposes.(Principle 2 of Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998)

6. The designation of the Council officers responsible for selecting the
independent investigators.

The Director of Law, HR and Asset Management commissioned the
investigation referred to in Clause 4 above and selected the independent
investigator.

7.In reference to the investigation of over-charging in DASS supported
investigation, any briefings, background papers etc (with appropriate
deletions in order to comply with DPA) that were issued as part of the
commissioning/procurement of the independent investigation. In particular
any document which clarifies the remit and scope of the independent
investigation.

As stated above, the independent investigation is concerned with
allegations of bullying made by a former employee. I consider that any
documents that were issued as part of the commissioning of that
investigation or which clarifies the remit and scope of that investigation
are exempt under Section 40 (3) (a) (ii)of the Freedom of Information Act
2000. The information in those documents includes significant personal
data. The disclosure of information to a member of the public would
contravene Section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998, which concerns the
right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress to
employees or former employees coming within the remit of that
investigation whose personal data is contained in the information sought.

The investigation of overcharging in DASS was carried out by the
Council's Internal Audit team and the reports of that investigation are
accessible by other means , and is therefore exempt information under
Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, being reports provided
to the Audit and Risk Management Committee on 23 September 2009 and 3
November 2009 and available on the Council's website :

([1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/uuCoverPa...)

I apologise for the lengthy delay in complying with your original request.
The Council has refused to supply certain of the information that you have
requested and has relied on the exemptions contained in Section 40 (2) and
that the first condition in Section 40(3) is satisfied.(as referred to
above) This part of Section 40 is an absolute exemption and not subject to
the public interest test.

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
to ask for an internal review of the refusal to the information requested.
I am aware that you have already asked for an internal review because of
the failure to respond to your request of 30 September. However, I must
formally give you the right to apply for an internal review in respect of
the response given in this email. Please would you direct any request for
an internal review to Mr Surjit Tour, Head of Legal and Member Services,
Department of Law, HR and Asset Management, Town Hall, Brighton Street,
Wallasey, CH44 8ED

You do have the right to complain to the information Commissioner, if you
are dissatisfied with the outcome of any internal review.

whose office is situated at :

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45
Fax: 01625 524510 [2]www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Lyon,

Solicitor,

Wirral Borough Council

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/uuCoverPa...
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Veridici left an annotation ()

It's taken WBC more than four months to come up with:

1. "The Council does not hold information of the description specified in the above query. Legislation both primary and secondary can be found on ..." with no direct link to the specific legislation.

2. "The Council does not have such a policy". Why not?

3. "There are no such Minutes". Why not?

4 and 5. I can only assume that Ms Lyon is new to the Council and therefore is in blissful ignorance of the Vic Hewitt investigation, which would mean that she has been lied to. If she is not new, then it would appear that she is being economical with the truth, although I doubt she wrote the response.

6. "The Director of Law, HR and Asset Management commissioned the investigation referred to in Clause 4 above and selected the independent investigator.". Is it a coincidence that this individual crops up time after time after time when it comes to blocking information requested by Council Tax-payers in the public interest? I think not.

7. As in 4 and 5.

Natasha, I do hope you will be taking this to the Information Commissioner. This Council's secrecy has become extremely worrisome.

I think these people need reminding just who pays their wages. Come May, with a different political climate, heads will begin to roll, methinks.

John H Hutchinson left an annotation ()

The secrecy that you have met is shared by those interested in "The Sail Project". It would be very interesting to know of other areas of secrecy. Go to ICO. It takes a long time. I will let you know my results.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

This investigation into Abuse of Power / Bullying at Wirral Council has found in favour of the employee who suffered from deliberate and calculated abuse over several years. It ends with an apology from the Leader of the Council and the offer of re-employment.

The story is here:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/897642...

A link to the covering report is here:

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

Although the Chief Executive and Head of Department have taken early retirement and escaped any censure, disciplinary action against the senior managers involved will follow.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Disciplinary action DID NOT follow. Wirral Council, where external investigator Anna Klonowski found that "the abnormal had become normal" worked it so that two abusive officers where paid off and their departure became described as "by mutual consent". No disciplinary charges were levelled in response to up to nine years of calculated learning disabled abuse. According to Private Eye, the sum of public money paid to them amounted to a total of £200,000. They may even have received a 'clean bill of health' or a positive work reference from their now ex-employer, which would transpire to a licence to abuse again elsewhere, if it were true. More details here:

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

This fiasco may have been the very costly consequences of protecting very senior officers at the abusive council.

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org