Due diligence prior to LDL takeover

Jenny Griffin 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 refused by Liverpool City Council.

Dear Liverpool City Council,

In your response to https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c... the Council has made some apparently contradictory statements about the information provided by KPMG prior to the Council taking over ownership of LDL.

Recent responses appear to say that the only due diligence was a highlight report and a set of emails and phone calls. If so, this would not be a standard due diligence process prior to acquiring a company.

Q1 : Please provide a copy of all committee and mayoral papers in which the due diligence process was discussed
Q2 : Please provide ALL documentation held by the Council related to the due diligence process. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes all financial assessments relating to the following topics :

- viability of LDL as a going concern
- analysis of previous balance sheets
- stock and asset lists
- depreciation of assets estimates
- financial analysis statements

I trust that the Council did not take on a business without undertaking industry-standard due diligence processes.

Yours faithfully,

Jenny Griffin

Kevin Symm, Liverpool City Council

Information request
Our reference: 416885

show quoted sections

Dear Mr Symm,

Your response is overdue. Could you advise when you anticipate responding?

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Griffin

Symm, Kevin, Liverpool City Council

Dear Ms Griffin

I am unable to give an indication of when our response will be complete

Please accept my apologies for the delay

Regards,

Kevin Symm I Senior Information Officer
Liverpool City Council I Cunard Building I Liverpool I L3 1DS
T: 0151 233 0418 I E: [email address]
Postal address:
Liverpool City Council I Municipal Buildings I Dale Street I Liverpool I L2 2DH

show quoted sections

Kevin Symm, Liverpool City Council

Dear Ms Griffin

In regards to your request please accept my apologies for the delay.

We are currently liaising with the relevant third party organisations in
order to establish what information can be disclosed. This process has
taken longer than anticipated and is, unfortunately, still ongoing

Once I am able to provide any information to you I will ensure this is
done so as quickly as possible.

I trust this is of assistance

Regards,

Kevin Symm I Senior Information Officer
Liverpool City Council I Cunard Building I Liverpool I L3 1DS
T: 0151 233 0418 I E: [1][email address]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

Katie M. left an annotation ()

You really have to wonder what “relevant third party organisations” they are referring to.
It can't be KPMG - it has already been established that the KMPG confidentiality clause – which in any event only concerns their terms and conditions, does not prevent the Council complying with its obligations under FOI – and KPMG itself clearly states this. As for the information itself, this is information KPMG was paid by the Council to put together. It belongs to the Council. It is actually information that the Council itself should already have held (according to law), but, shockingly and shamefully, has repeatedly said it did not - including under oath. KPMG presumably had to go to LDL or even fellow shareholder BT to get it (since they have said in response to another FOI request that BT did the accounts). So fine, it came from them. But it doesn't mean they own it.
If it's LDL and/or BT, they will say no, and make noises about commercial confidentiality, and instead of following the ICO guidance, the Council will simply state that they cannot risk legal proceedings - without considering either the public interest in disclosure (overwhelming), or the fact that there isn't really any risk of proceedings when a) the information should always have been provided, b) the Council and its wholly owned company LDL is no longer involved with BT, which is merely a former shareholder, and c) BT doesn't have any more of these lucrative but embarrassing joint ventures, and has stated it is withdrawing from this market. So no realistic prospect of successful legal proceedings against the Council - just the hopefully massive prospect of huge embarrassment, if not worse, for all concerned. And avoiding embarrassment is not a valid reason for refusing a request. If it was, no-one would ever release anything.
But they'll procrastinate, then refuse, then there'll be a complaint to the ICO, which will eventually be upheld.
It's all about wasting time - 10 days ago the Council postponed the filing of LDL's accounts for 2014-16 until after the 2016 local elections, and clearly are attempting to postpone releasing any information about it until then too.
My two requests about this are already on the ICO's radar (they have written to the Council about both), and hopefully the complaints will proceed faster, if and when the internal reviews refuse the requests. As this is already late, you could do the same with this one. The more the merrier.

Dear Mr Symm,

Thank you for your courteous response. I know that these delays are not your personal fault, and I appreciate that it must be difficult acting as the public face of an organisation when it breaches its statutory deadlines.

I am a little puzzled by your comment about third parties. I didn't ask the Council to disclose any information other than information held by the Council.

To remind you, my questions were as follows :

Q1 : Please provide a copy of all committee and mayoral papers in which the due diligence process was discussed
Q2 : Please provide ALL documentation held by the Council related to the due diligence process. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes all financial assessments relating to the following topics:

- viability of LDL as a going concern
- analysis of previous balance sheets
- stock and asset lists
- depreciation of assets estimates
- financial analysis statements

Regardless of who helped the Council to compile this information, it is the Council's information, and therefore subject to the Act.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Griffin

Kevin Symm, Liverpool City Council

Dear Sir/Madam
Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states:-

"In this Act any reference to a 'request for information' is a reference
to such a request which-

is in writing, states the real name of the applicant and an address for
correspondence"

While we have an address for correspondence we do not believe this to be
your real name. As such, and in accordance with Section 8 of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, could you provide us documentary evidence as to
your identity.

Until we have this information we will not be proceeding with your request

Kevin Symm I Senior Information Officer
Liverpool City Council I Cunard Building I Liverpool I L3 1DS
T: 0151 233 0418 I E: [1][email address]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

Katie M. left an annotation ()

Farcical. Yet another example of the Council citing a section of the FOIA and then ignoring the guidance about how to apply it).
As I wrote in a note to the accusation to someone else that they were using a pseudonym, the guidance is here https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
And it states:
" if the name provided is not an obvious pseudonym and the public authority has no reason to believe that a pseudonym is being used, the authority should just accept the name provided at face value.
Whilst this may mean that some pseudonymous requests will slip through the net, we would not want to see a situation where authorities routinely carry out checks on requesters’ identities. The Act provides a public right to information, not a right limited to certain individuals."

You've been making requests for years (4?) and they have never raised this issue - indeed, they've had this request for months, engaging in correspondence with you.
I wouldn't even bother asking them why, but would complain IMMEDIATELY to the Information Commissioner.
This clearly is about (very belatedly, in this case) shutting down requests they don't want to answer, because they are running out of excuses, and know it.
Mr Symm has always been professional and courteous before - so I suspect he's been told to just close these requests down. Desperation.

George Murray left an annotation ()

But you're Jenny Griffin aren't you, and you're Paul Wiggins as well aren't you

Katie M. left an annotation ()

George, if your question was directed at me, then, no, I'm not anyone else. I am registered with WDTK with a single name, and that's it.
I'm puzzled - I know that the people whose identity you and/or LCC has challenged (Jenny, Josie, and new requester Paul) have asked questions about LDL and other Council activities, as I have done, but so have all sorts of other people. For what it's worth, I've had contact with several (and, no, I'm not in the habit of having conversations with myself and/or imaginary friends), although admittedly it did not occur to me to ask them to produce documentary evidence that they are who they say they are.
Do you really think I'm the only person asking questions about these things? Seriously?
You seem to have just joined WDTK, and have made no requests to anyone about anything. So did you join for the sole purpose of making silly and/or denigrating comments about people asking LCC for information they are trying desperately to hide? What on earth for?

Jenny Griffin left an annotation ()

George - your comments about 'wasting time' suggest that you don't believe in citizens using the FOIA to obtain information about how public money is spent.

In truth, if we had a more transparent council I wouldn't be spending my time digging like this. The reality is that the LDL debacle cost the Council tens of millions of pounds more than it should have done. Some of us think it's important to find out why, where the money went, whether there was criminality involved etc.

I can confirm that 'Katie M' is a real person, by the way. And she isn't me. I don't have a clue who you are, though, like Katie M, I note that you've just popped up with no apparent purpose except to have a go at people trying to hold the Council to account.

George Murray left an annotation ()

The 'lady' protests too much. I'll do you a deal, you prove you're a real person and I'll pay £20 to a charity of your choice Mrs Griffin. Deal?

Katie M. left an annotation ()

George, this is getting silly. If you are trying to close down this and similar requests, you're actually doing the opposite.
And you can't stop them anyway. Even if the Council temporarily stop requests by accusing people of using pseudonyms, it won't stop the requests themselves. Someone like me will just resubmit any that have been rejected on this basis. I'm a freelancer with no personal, political, family or professional connection to the Council, BT or anyone else that could conceivably be affected by any of this, and have no objection to demonstrating who I am to the overbearing and over-reacting jobsmiths at the Council (who in this respect, as in many others, are in breach of the FOI guidance). I would resent it, of course, as many people would. But the point is, the requests won't go away, they'll just be delayed. And they will still have to answer them.
In the meantime, the huge amount of information (50 plus FOI requests) obtained by Jenny Griffin is out there, in the public domain. As is mine. That surely is what matters - the content and quality of the information, not who gathered it and put it together. Merseyside Police certainly thought so when they met both of us, together and separately, on more than one occasion, to discuss and explain the information we have gathered.
If you keep it up, I'll just refresh everyone's memory by listing all the FOI requests about LDL and the Council, with a summary of what they told us, illustrating the denials, contradictions, etc etc. It won't take long, I do that kind of thing for a living.
Everyone is fully aware that BT may well have gone, but that was not the end of the saga (much as Joe and Ged no doubt wish it was).
The people who as directors have legal responsibility for all this are still there, while the senior managers who ran both LDL and OCL, raking in salaries and bonuses here and in Lancashire (based on the money they made for BT), are back at LCC.
The only one who's gone is McElhinney - but not before LCC paid him almost £120K for five months work (November 2014 to March 2015), plus his handsome payoff. But the LDL accounts submitted by McElhinney are and were - as Jenny, I and others had repeatedly shown - so dodgy that KPMG were not able to provide the assurances they were contracted to do (i.e. proper due diligence - why don't you look it up?), notwithstanding the statements to the contrary made by officers. So AFTER the Council had been told by KPMG that the company's finances were an incomprehensible mess (in October 2015), they decided to pay the man responsible handsomely. And allowed him to spend his time stripping out all the third party work that actually generated income, and transferring it all to BT.
No wonder they won't release the full KPMG report.
Which is why we've been asking more questions.
And it is these questions about the KPMG report that has prompted all these accusations of pseudonyms and vexatiousness.
It won't work.

George Murray left an annotation ()

I've got no idea who any of these people you're talking about are and I couldn't care less about them. I don't even come from Liverpool so whoever McIlvanney and LDL is I have not a clue

Also, I asked griffin a question, not you so I can't understand why you keep jumping to her, and wiggins' defence so quickly. Mind you, it's probably a bit confusing keeping all these passwords in your head and remembering who you're claiming to be at the drop of a hat.

Griffin, when you remember to log back on under your real name, the bet still stands. Please make a monkey out of me and prove your real. I won't my breath in the meantime

Josie Mullen left an annotation ()

Just to say that Georgio Murray has never made an FOI request, and has only started to leave crass comments over the last few days. It's obviously a set-up, so don't bother replying to him. The whole thing stinks - he's not from Liverpool and has never heard of any of the people that are mentioned in the FOI's - DO ME A FAVOUR!!!!!

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Speaking entirely from an FOI point of view, it is always wrong for a council to question the identity of a requester. Anyone can make an FOI request, so who is making it doesn't matter.

It's not just me who says this - the ICO say it is good practice for authorities to still respond even to an obvious pseudonym (see their advice linked to from https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/priv...), never mind a name which is most likely a real person.

An FOI officer questioning identity either 1) doesn't understand FOI and best practice around FOI, 2) has been told to stall, or 3) has been asked to try and find out a connection such as to a whistleblower.

Whichever reason, it is unacceptable. Authorities should respond to requests, not refuse them based on identity.

mark thompson left an annotation ()

This could be considered apocryphal Francis Irving. Although ICO good practice may say PA's should respond, in law, the act prevents the commissioner from determining such complaints.
This FOI http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ac... shows it but I think they are economical with numbers by about one order of magnitude.
The PA Financial Ombudsman http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/finan... is proficient at this. It won't be long before all PA's use the same Section 8 exemption to delay requests by 6 months at the ICO because they all use the same corporate FOI training providers. Just a warning if you don't want to loose access for FOI via WDTK.