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DFT/OLR Independent Reviews on LNER

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Dear DFT/OLR (DOHL).

"I am writing to formally request the publication of the independent review and findings requested by DFT/OLR (DOHL). This independent review was initiated as a response to an anonymous whistle-blower letter received, addressing concerns related to the handling of internal processes/ LNER's operational toxic culture, grievance handling, and antiquated rostering processes.

The review, conducted between May 2023 to July 2023, holds significance for various stakeholders, including the general public, employees, and those with a vested interest in the matters that were under examination.

With this in mind, I kindly request the independent findings and recommendations resulting from this review be made accessible to the public. This action would not only facilitate a clearer understanding of the review's outcomes and actions required but also underscore a commitment to transparency and accountability on the part of DFT/OLR (DOHL) Holding, and LNER as a publicly owned company in addressing the pertinent issues.

Yours faithfully,

Alistair Pedlow

Company Secretary, DfT OLR Holdings Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Alistair Pedlow

 

Freedom of Information Act request – 2309-027.

 

Thank you for your information request dated 24 September 2023.

 

You requested the public disclosure of an independent review carried out
by a third-party contractor on behalf of DOHL. The review, conducted
between May and July 2023, focused on LNER's Customer Experience
directorate.

 

DOHL confirms that it holds the information you have requested, however
not in the completed form your email implies.

 

After careful consideration, we have decided to withhold the requested
information under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which
relates to "Information intended for future publication”.

 

Our reasons for withholding under Section 22 are:

 

• We can confirm that DOHL possesses the requested information,
currently in draft form, with a firm intention to publish it in due
course. To clarify, the document is undergoing active revisions and
has not yet reached its final version.

 

• The information intended for future publication is the same specific
information that you have requested. Any material that may be
discarded or rejected during the preparation for publication is not
covered under Section 22.

 

• While there is no fixed date for publication, there is a clear
intention to publish the information in the future. This will occur
once the relevant parties have properly received the document and have
been afforded a fair opportunity to analyse it within the context of
their operational setting.

 

• The term "publication" in this context includes making the information
available for public inspection, with appropriate and reasonable
access facilities to be provided.

 

We have conducted a public interest test to weigh the public interest in
maintaining the exemption versus disclosing the information. We
acknowledge that there is significant public interest in understanding
the culture within an organisation like LNER. The way it operates, treat
its employees, and handles internal processes potentially impacts the
quality of services it provides to the public. Transparency in these
matters is not just a matter of public curiosity but a vital aspect of
accountable governance. Therefore, we recognise the weight of public
interest in this area. However, we strongly believe that releasing a
report that is still under active revision could lead to confusion,
misinterpretation, and potential harm to those involved. This could
undermine the very transparency and accountability that the public
interest test aims to uphold.

 

Factors considered include:

 

• Withholding the information at this stage is a sensible course of
action because it is part of a comprehensive review that is intended
for future public scrutiny. Releasing partial or unverified findings
could compromise the integrity of the entire review process. It's
crucial that the public receives accurate and complete information,
which can only be assured if the report is finalised and released in
its entirety.

 

• It is fair to all stakeholders involved—be it the general public,
employees, or other interested parties—to release the information in a
structured and planned manner. This ensures that the findings and
recommendations are contextualised appropriately, allowing for a
nuanced understanding of the issues at hand. A piecemeal or premature
release could lead to misinterpretation or misuse of the information,
which would not serve the interests of any stakeholder.

 

• Releasing the information before its intended publication date could
provide certain parties with an undue advantage. This could skew the
fairness of any subsequent actions or decisions that may be taken
based on the review's findings. For example, individuals or groups who
gain early access to the information could use it to shape public
opinion or take pre-emptive actions that could compromise the
integrity of the review process.

 

• The report contains information about the culture among employees of a
third party. Disclosing this information prematurely could not only
unfairly advantage or disadvantage certain parties but also risk
breaching the privacy and integrity of the individuals and
organisations involved. As such, withholding the report until its
intended publication date is both prudent and necessary to ensure that
its findings are disseminated in a balanced and fair manner.

 

• The report is currently in a state of active revision. Releasing it in
this unfinished state could lead to confusion, misinterpretation, and
potential harm to those named or implicated in the report.
Stakeholders may draw conclusions based on incomplete or inaccurate
information, which could have serious repercussions. Therefore, it is
in the best interest of all stakeholders that the report is accurate,
complete, and finalised before being made publicly available.

 

In light of the above, we find it reasonable in all circumstances to
withhold the information until the intended publication date. Once the
information has been published, Section 22 will no longer apply, and the
information will be accessible to the public.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the way we have responded to or handled your
request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. These should be
submitted within two calendar months of the date of this letter and
addressed to [1][DOHL request email]. When making your request,
please clearly identify the aspects of our initial response that you would
like us to revisit, along with your rationale for the review. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

 

If you ask for an internal review and are still not content with the
outcome, you have the right to apply directly to the Information
Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted
via their online form:
[2]https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/offi...

 

Yours sincerely, 

 

Matt Bentley

Business Manager DOHL

 

 

show quoted sections

Subject: Formal Challenge to FOI Request No. 2309-027 - Reassessment and Full Disclosure Sought

Dear Mr. Bentley,
Pursuant to my earlier Freedom of Information request regarding the independent Internal review of LNER undertaken by Ms Jane Cornthwaite between May and June 2023, I wish to formally challenge the decision of the DFT/OLR to withhold the said document.

Firstly, I must underscore the information I have received from a senior member within the DFT/OLR, which stipulates that the damming report against LNER had already reached its final form in June 2023. This is incongruous with the assertion that the document is presently undergoing revisions. Such discrepancies necessitate clarification and transparency.

In pursuing transparency and the public's right to information, I draw your attention to examples of legal precedents:

1. R (on the application of Evans) and another (Respondents) v Attorney General (Appellant): This case, colloquially known as the "Prince Charles Letters" case, significantly emphasises the importance of public interest and transparency, even when weighed against concerns of potential future disclosures. The judgement, in essence, emphasised the necessity of transparency in matters of significant public interest, irrespective of potential future publication.

2. Fish Legal & Emily Shirley v Information Commissioner & Others: This case delineated what constitutes a "public authority" under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The decision underscores that entities performing public administrative functions fall under the scope of transparency regulations. It reiterates the responsibility of such entities towards public disclosure.

3. Dransfield and another v The Information Commissioner: This judgement highlighted the necessity of effectively balancing the public interest against the risk of vexatious requests. It serves as a reminder that decisions to withhold information should be grounded in substantive reasoning and not potential inconvenience.

Invoking Section 22 of the FOI Act 2000 requires a robust balancing act between the potential harm of disclosure against the genuine public interest. The withholding of a report, especially based on potential misinterpretation, can inadvertently undermine the foundational principles of democratic governance, transparency, and accountability.
Given LNER's status as a publicly owned entity, transparency should be paramount. Concealing a potentially critical report further raises more questions than answers for shareholders, stakeholders, and the public.

Therefore, considering the above arguments, I request:
1. A clear timeline for the public release of the unredacted report in its entirety.
2. An exhaustive revaluation of the initial decision to withhold the report, with due regard to the legal and ethical points I have delineated.
While I am hopeful of a collaborative and positive resolution, I wish to make it unequivocally clear that I am prepared to escalate this matter to the Information Commissioner's Office, should the necessity arise.
Your immediate attention and swift action in this matter will be much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
Alistair Pedlow

Dear DfT OLR Holdings Limited,
Subject: Formal Challenge to FOI Request No. 2309-027 - Reassessment and Full Disclosure Sought

Dear Mr. Bentley,
Pursuant to my earlier Freedom of Information request regarding the independent Internal review of LNER undertaken by Ms Jane Cornthwaite between May and June 2023, I wish to formally challenge the decision of the DFT/OLR to withhold the said document.

Firstly, I must underscore the information I have received from a senior member within the DFT/OLR, which stipulates that the damming report against LNER had already reached its final form in June 2023. This is incongruous with the assertion that the document is presently undergoing revisions. Such discrepancies necessitate clarification and transparency.

In pursuing transparency and the public's right to information, I draw your attention to examples of legal precedents:

1. R (on the application of Evans) and another (Respondents) v Attorney General (Appellant): This case, colloquially known as the "Prince Charles Letters" case, significantly emphasises the importance of public interest and transparency, even when weighed against concerns of potential future disclosures. The judgement, in essence, emphasised the necessity of transparency in matters of significant public interest, irrespective of potential future publication.

2. Fish Legal & Emily Shirley v Information Commissioner & Others: This case delineated what constitutes a "public authority" under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The decision underscores that entities performing public administrative functions fall under the scope of transparency regulations. It reiterates the responsibility of such entities towards public disclosure.

3. Dransfield and another v The Information Commissioner: This judgement highlighted the necessity of effectively balancing the public interest against the risk of vexatious requests. It serves as a reminder that decisions to withhold information should be grounded in substantive reasoning and not potential inconvenience.

Invoking Section 22 of the FOI Act 2000 requires a robust balancing act between the potential harm of disclosure against the genuine public interest. The withholding of a report, especially based on potential misinterpretation, can inadvertently undermine the foundational principles of democratic governance, transparency, and accountability.

Given LNER's status as a publicly owned entity, transparency should be paramount. Concealing a potentially critical report further raises more questions than answers for shareholders, stakeholders, and the public.
Therefore, considering the above arguments, I request:

1. A clear timeline for the public release of the unredacted report in its entirety.
2. An exhaustive revaluation of the initial decision to withhold the report, with due regard to the legal and ethical points I have delineated.

While I am hopeful of a collaborative and positive resolution, I wish to make it unequivocally clear that I am prepared to escalate this matter to the Information Commissioner's Office, should the necessity arise.
Your immediate attention and swift action in this matter will be much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
Alistair Pedlow

Company Secretary, DfT OLR Holdings Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Pedlow

 

Please find attached an acknowledgement of your request for an internal
review of our response to your FOI request, including an outline of the
process.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Matt Bentley

Business Manager DOHL

 

 

show quoted sections

Company Secretary, DfT OLR Holdings Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Pedlow

 

In follow-up to my previous response, the report you requested has now
been shared with LNER staff and is to be published online in the near
future.

 

Consequently, we are now able to provide you with a copy of that report.
Please find it attached.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Bentley

Business Manager DOHL

 

 

 

From: Company Secretary
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2023 4:06 PM
To: Alistair Pedlow <[FOI #1030886 email]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - DFT/OLR Independent Reviews
on LNER

 

Dear Alistair Pedlow

 

Freedom of Information Act request – 2309-027.

 

Thank you for your information request dated 24 September 2023.

 

You requested the public disclosure of an independent review carried out
by a third-party contractor on behalf of DOHL. The review, conducted
between May and July 2023, focused on LNER's Customer Experience
directorate.

 

DOHL confirms that it holds the information you have requested, however
not in the completed form your email implies.

 

After careful consideration, we have decided to withhold the requested
information under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which
relates to "Information intended for future publication”.

 

Our reasons for withholding under Section 22 are:

 

• We can confirm that DOHL possesses the requested information,
currently in draft form, with a firm intention to publish it in due
course. To clarify, the document is undergoing active revisions and
has not yet reached its final version.

 

• The information intended for future publication is the same specific
information that you have requested. Any material that may be
discarded or rejected during the preparation for publication is not
covered under Section 22.

 

• While there is no fixed date for publication, there is a clear
intention to publish the information in the future. This will occur
once the relevant parties have properly received the document and have
been afforded a fair opportunity to analyse it within the context of
their operational setting.

 

• The term "publication" in this context includes making the information
available for public inspection, with appropriate and reasonable
access facilities to be provided.

 

We have conducted a public interest test to weigh the public interest in
maintaining the exemption versus disclosing the information. We
acknowledge that there is significant public interest in understanding
the culture within an organisation like LNER. The way it operates, treat
its employees, and handles internal processes potentially impacts the
quality of services it provides to the public. Transparency in these
matters is not just a matter of public curiosity but a vital aspect of
accountable governance. Therefore, we recognise the weight of public
interest in this area. However, we strongly believe that releasing a
report that is still under active revision could lead to confusion,
misinterpretation, and potential harm to those involved. This could
undermine the very transparency and accountability that the public
interest test aims to uphold.

 

Factors considered include:

 

• Withholding the information at this stage is a sensible course of
action because it is part of a comprehensive review that is intended
for future public scrutiny. Releasing partial or unverified findings
could compromise the integrity of the entire review process. It's
crucial that the public receives accurate and complete information,
which can only be assured if the report is finalised and released in
its entirety.

 

• It is fair to all stakeholders involved—be it the general public,
employees, or other interested parties—to release the information in a
structured and planned manner. This ensures that the findings and
recommendations are contextualised appropriately, allowing for a
nuanced understanding of the issues at hand. A piecemeal or premature
release could lead to misinterpretation or misuse of the information,
which would not serve the interests of any stakeholder.

 

• Releasing the information before its intended publication date could
provide certain parties with an undue advantage. This could skew the
fairness of any subsequent actions or decisions that may be taken
based on the review's findings. For example, individuals or groups who
gain early access to the information could use it to shape public
opinion or take pre-emptive actions that could compromise the
integrity of the review process.

 

• The report contains information about the culture among employees of a
third party. Disclosing this information prematurely could not only
unfairly advantage or disadvantage certain parties but also risk
breaching the privacy and integrity of the individuals and
organisations involved. As such, withholding the report until its
intended publication date is both prudent and necessary to ensure that
its findings are disseminated in a balanced and fair manner.

 

• The report is currently in a state of active revision. Releasing it in
this unfinished state could lead to confusion, misinterpretation, and
potential harm to those named or implicated in the report.
Stakeholders may draw conclusions based on incomplete or inaccurate
information, which could have serious repercussions. Therefore, it is
in the best interest of all stakeholders that the report is accurate,
complete, and finalised before being made publicly available.

 

In light of the above, we find it reasonable in all circumstances to
withhold the information until the intended publication date. Once the
information has been published, Section 22 will no longer apply, and the
information will be accessible to the public.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the way we have responded to or handled your
request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. These should be
submitted within two calendar months of the date of this letter and
addressed to [1][DOHL request email]. When making your request,
please clearly identify the aspects of our initial response that you would
like us to revisit, along with your rationale for the review. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

 

If you ask for an internal review and are still not content with the
outcome, you have the right to apply directly to the Information
Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted
via their online form:
[2]https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/offi...

 

Yours sincerely, 

 

Matt Bentley

Business Manager DOHL

 

 

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Alistair Pedlow please sign in and let everyone know.