Disciplinary Action - Alleged Breach of Freedom of Information Acts

Calum McLean made this Freedom of Information request to House of Lords

Waiting for an internal review by House of Lords of their handling of this request.

From: Calum McLean

1 October 2011

Dear House of Lords,

Alleged Breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Freedom
of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

I refer to the advice given by Mary Morgan, employed by your public
authority as "Director of Information".

Below is the offending email by Mary Morgan reproduced in full.
However, I draw your attention to the specific advice by Mary
Morgan to honourable members of the House of Lords to 'Make No
Comment' in reply to LAWFUL Freedom of Information requests

OPEN QUOTE....

"It is possible that they will try to pursue individual members and
we suggest that if you are approached you do not make any comment."

CLOSE QUOTE.

1] As Mary Morgan's job is "Director of Information" she MUST
surely be REQUIRED to have a detailed knowledge of the Freedom of
Information legislation? Yes? No?

2] I refer to the Freedom of Information Act 2000....

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

Consequently, I now formally allege that in her email, Mary Morgan
has incited honourable members to breach their duties under the
law? Specifically The Freedom of Information Act 2000 Sections 1(a)
and 1(b) ?

As a result, and in terms of that very Freedom of Information Act,
please can you advise me what disciplinary action:

2]a. You have taken against Mary Morgan?
2]b. In light of the above, you will take against Mary Morgan?

3] I further refer to the Freedom of Information Act 2000....

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

I formally allege that in her email, Mary Morgan has incited
honourable members to further breach their duties under the law?
Specifically The Freedom of Information Act 2000, Sections 16 (1)
"It shall be the duty of a public authority to provide advice and
assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the
authority to do so, to persons who propose to make, or have made,
requests for information to it."

As a result of, and in terms of that very Freedom of Information
Act, please can you advise me what disciplinary action:

3]a. You have taken against Mary Morgan in light of this evident
malfeasance by public official?

3]b. Given the above, what action do you propose to take against
the alleged malfeasance of Mary Morgan in her incitement of the
noble Lords and Ladies to break the law?

4] The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 contains similar
provisions to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Please can you
add the Scottish equivalent breach of the legislation to the
substantive matters raised in my freedom of Information Act
request?

Thank you.

Calum McLean

=======================================

Material Excerpt...........

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

FOI LORDS
House of Lords

16 February 2011
Dear Mr Leaton

I am writing in response to your request for information received
by the House of Lords on 21 January.

Following clarification of your request on 24 January we have
interpreted this to be for any emails or letters sent by the House
of Lords administration to Members relating to the issue of media
enquiries into Members expenses over the last five years.

We have located one email sent to all Members of the House of Lords
by the then Director of Public Information on 7 May 2009 at 1436 .
The content of this email is below:

Subject: Press Interest in Members' Allowances

Message from Mary Morgan

This is to alert you to the fact that both the Sunday Times and the
News of the World are continuing to ask questions about overnight
allowances and main and second homes using the most recently
published expenses (December 2008). These are available on the
website, together with background briefing explaining the system.

It is possible that they will try to pursue individual members and
we suggest that if you are approached you do not make any comment.

Mary

Mary Morgan
Director of Public Information
Information Office
House of Lords
Tel : 020 7219 0671

Link to this

From: House Of Lords Information Office
House of Lords

1 October 2011

Thank you for your email.

The House of Lords Information Office receives large numbers of e-mails and we aim to reply within 10 working days. If you need the information sooner please telephone the House of Lords Information Office on 020 7219 3107.

The following information may answer many of your enquiries.

House of Lords
If you have access to the internet you may find the answers to most of your queries on the House of Lords pages of the Parliament website: http://www.parliament.uk/lords

House of Lords Press Office
If you are a member of the press and wish to contact the House of Lords Press Office please call 020 7219 8550.

Judicial Questions
For information about appeal cases, please contact the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Parliament Square
London SW1P 3BD
Tel: 020 7960 1991/1992
Fax: 020 7960 1901
http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk

Appointments to the House of Lords
For queries about appointments to the House of Lords, contact the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which is a separate independent body and NOT part of the House of Lords:
The House of Lords Appointments Commission
35 Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BQ
Tel: 020 7276 2005 (020 7276 2315 for an Information Pack)
www.lordsappointments.gov.uk<http://www.lordsappointments.gov.uk>

Please be aware that blind copied emails will not be received.

Thank you.

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From: GREY, Frances
House of Lords

19 October 2011

Dear Mr. McLean,     

 

 

Thank you for your e-mail to the House of Lords.

 

 

There is nothing in Mary Morgan’s e-mail of 7 May 2009 that touches upon
any provision of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”).  
Individual Members of the House of Lords are not public authorities for
the purposes of the Act.  Consequently, we do not hold any information
relevant to your request.

 

You may wish to be aware that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002 (“FoISA”) applies only to recorded information held by Scottish
public authorities listed in Schedule 1. The House of Lords is not a
Scottish public authority. Members of the House of Lords are not public
authorities for the purposes of FoISA.

 

FoISA applies only in Scotland.  I am attaching a link to the Scottish
Information Commissioner’s website which provides more information about
this Act:

[1]http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/L...

 

You may, if dissatisfied with the treatment of your request for
information, ask the House of Lords to conduct an internal review. 
Requests for an internal review should be addressed to
[2][email address] or to the Freedom of Information Officer, House
of Lords, London  SW1A 0PW.  Arrangements will be made for someone who has
not been involved in dealing with your request to conduct an internal
review. Our aim is to complete internal reviews within 20 working days.

 

If, following this review, you remain dissatisfied with the House’s
treatment of your request for information then you may take your complaint
to the Information Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire. SK9 5AF.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Frances Grey

Freedom of Information Officer

House of Lords

 

 

 

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From: GREY, Frances
House of Lords

19 October 2011

Dear Mr. McLean,     

 

 

Thank you for your e-mail to the House of Lords.

 

 

There is nothing in Mary Morgan’s e-mail of 7 May 2009 that touches upon
any provision of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”).  
Individual Members of the House of Lords are not public authorities for
the purposes of the Act.  Consequently, we do not hold any information
relevant to your request.

 

You may wish to be aware that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002 (“FoISA”) applies only to recorded information held by Scottish
public authorities listed in Schedule 1. The House of Lords is not a
Scottish public authority. Members of the House of Lords are not public
authorities for the purposes of FoISA.

 

FoISA applies only in Scotland.  I am attaching a link to the Scottish
Information Commissioner’s website which provides more information about
this Act:

[1]http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/L...

 

You may, if dissatisfied with the treatment of your request for
information, ask the House of Lords to conduct an internal review. 
Requests for an internal review should be addressed to
[2][email address] or to the Freedom of Information Officer, House
of Lords, London  SW1A 0PW.  Arrangements will be made for someone who has
not been involved in dealing with your request to conduct an internal
review. Our aim is to complete internal reviews within 20 working days.

 

If, following this review, you remain dissatisfied with the House’s
treatment of your request for information then you may take your complaint
to the Information Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire. SK9 5AF.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Frances Grey

Freedom of Information Officer

House of Lords

 

 

 

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From: Calum McLean

19 October 2011

Dear Frances Grey,

Thank you for your email.

I am perfectly aware of the difference between the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002 thank you. I quoted both pieces of legislation in an effort to
AVOID spurious refusal or stonewalling of my request.

As a result of the response, I believe this has been in vain.

The House of Lords IS subject to the Freedom of Information Act
2000 [FOIA].

Whilst INDIVIDUAL members may have managed to assist in voting
themselves personally exempt from FOIA legislation, it is my
assertion that officials such as CIVIL SERVANTS employed, for
example by the Fees Office within the House of Lords, ARE subject
to the Freedom of Information Act.

THEREFORE my determination is that you have failed to fully answer
my original request. Please consider this response as my
requirement under the FOIA legislation that you progress my
original FOIA request to the next tier? That of INTERNAL REVIEW?

Thank you.

Calum McLean
19th October 2011

Link to this

From: GREY, Frances
House of Lords

19 October 2011

I am out of the office on 20th October. Please send any freedom of information requests to [email address]

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Link to this

From: FOI LORDS
House of Lords

25 October 2011

Dear Mr. McLean,

 

It may be helpful if I send you a further response to your original
e-mail.  This time I will respond to the two aspects of your e-mail
separately. 

 

1.       A response to your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000.  The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 does not apply for
the reasons already explained

 

2.       A response to the allegation contained in your e-mail. 

 

 

(1)    Our formal response in terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
is as follows:

 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides a right of access to recorded
information held by a public authority at the time a request was
received.  The House Administration does not hold recorded information
relevant to your request namely:

 

“As a result, and in terms of that very Freedom of Information Act,
     please can you advise me what disciplinary action:
    
     2]a. You have taken against Mary Morgan?
     2]b. In light of the above, you will take against Mary Morgan?”

This is because (a) there were no grounds for disciplinary action and
consequently no information was recorded and (b) the Administration did
not hold recorded information relating to the contents of your e-mail at
the time the request contained in your e-mail was received.   As of
today’s date, it still does not hold recorded information relevant to your
request.

 

 

(2)As far as the allegation contained in your e-mail is concerned it may
be helpful if I explain the application of the Freedom of Information Act
2000.

 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the FoIA”) applies to recorded
information held by public authorities listed in Schedule 1.  In your
e-mail you allege that Mary Morgan “incited honourable Members” to breach
their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. However,
Members of the House of Lords are not public authorities for the purposes
of the FoIA and therefore do not have any obligations under the Act.

Therefore, the e-mail you quote could not and did not relate to written
requests for information received by Members of the House and accordingly
there was no breach of the Act and no grounds for disciplinary action. 

 

I hope this clarifies the matter. 

 

 

If, however, you still wish the House of Lords Administration to conduct
an internal review of its handling of the part of your e-mail which
related to a request for recorded information (i.e. the part of your
e-mail I have dealt with under (1) above) please could you let me know
what you wish to be subject to that review.   

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Frances Grey

Freedom of Information Officer

House of Lords

 

 

 

------------------- Original Message

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From: Calum McLean

25 October 2011

Dear House of Lords,

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

I am writing to request an INTERNAL REVIEW of House of Lords's
handling of my FOI request 'Disciplinary Action - Alleged Breach of
Freedom of Information Acts'.

My grounds are that the House of Lords FEES OFFICE, and the House
of Lords EXPENSES PROTOCOL form detail that ARE subject to the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Yes? No?

Consequently, my grounds for INTERNAL REVIEW are that the lady from
your Freedom of Information Office, whilst endeavouring to be
helpful is wrong on TECHNICAL and LEGAL grounds.

Consequently, I submit my request for an INTERNAL REVIEW prior to
the external APPEAL process.

Thank you.

Calum McLean
25th october 2011

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:

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

Yours faithfully,

Calum McLean

Link to this

From: House Of Lords Information Office
House of Lords

25 October 2011

Thank you for your email.

The House of Lords Information Office receives large numbers of e-mails and we aim to reply within 10 working days. If you need the information sooner please telephone the House of Lords Information Office on 020 7219 3107.

The following information may answer many of your enquiries.

House of Lords
If you have access to the internet you may find the answers to most of your queries on the House of Lords pages of the Parliament website: http://www.parliament.uk/lords

House of Lords Press Office
If you are a member of the press and wish to contact the House of Lords Press Office please call 020 7219 8550.

Judicial Questions
For information about appeal cases, please contact the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Parliament Square
London SW1P 3BD
Tel: 020 7960 1991/1992
Fax: 020 7960 1901
http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk

Appointments to the House of Lords
For queries about appointments to the House of Lords, contact the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which is a separate independent body and NOT part of the House of Lords:
The House of Lords Appointments Commission
35 Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BQ
Tel: 020 7276 2005 (020 7276 2315 for an Information Pack)
www.lordsappointments.gov.uk<http://www.lordsappointments.gov.uk>

Please be aware that blind copied emails will not be received.

Thank you.

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: BROCKLEHURST, Alexander
House of Lords

2 November 2011

Dear Mr McLean,

I am writing in response to your emails of 19 and 25 October 2011 in which you asked for an internal review of your request, dated 1 October 2011, for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ('the Act'). Having not previously been involved in dealing with your request, I have been asked to conduct this review, details of which are set out below.

Your original request related to an email sent by Mary Morgan to members of the House of Lords on 7 May 2009, and your subsequent emails raised a number of additional points about the application of the Freedom of Information Act. Having reviewed the facts at my disposal, I am satisfied that your request for information under the Act has been dealt with appropriately by the House of Lords. My reasons for coming to this conclusion are as follows:

* The Act provides a right of access to recorded information held by a public authority. The House of Lords is specified as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the Act, but, as you appear to accept in your email of 19 October 2011, this is a reference to the House of Lords as a body and not to individual members of the House. This follows from the decision of the Information Tribunal in Corporate Officer of the House of Commons and the Information Commissioner (EA/2006/0074/0075/0076<http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...>) in which it was held that the identification of the House of Commons as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the Act was to the House of Commons as a body and not to individual MPs who collectively make up the House of Commons. I consider by analogy the position to be the same for the House of Lords, and therefore that information held by individual members of the House of Lords does not come within the scope of the Act.

* Consequently, the email from Mary Morgan dated 7 May 2009 was itself subject to, and disclosed under, the Act, but could not be said to be inciting members to breach the Act, since individual members are not subject to the Act.

* Your original request under the Act was framed not in terms of a request for recorded information held by the House of Lords as a public authority, but as questions around Mary Morgan's knowledge of the Act and possible disciplinary action. I consider that, consequent to the point above, the responses from the Freedom of Information Officer dated 19 and 25 October 2011 correctly stated that the House of Lords does not hold any information relevant to your request.

* In your emails of 19 and 25 October 2011, you appear to suggest that the House of Lords claims not to be subject to the provisions of the Act. I do not consider this an accurate interpretation of the responses of the Freedom of Information Officer. For the avoidance of doubt, the House of Lords is specified as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the Act, and individual employees and offices within the administration of the House of Lords have obligations under the Act; individual members are not public authorities for the purposes of the Act.

* There appears to be agreement that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 does not cover the House of Lords and at this stage is therefore not relevant to this internal review.

If you are not content with the outcome of this internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner may be contacted at: the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Brocklehurst

Head of Research Services
Library
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW

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