EHRC policy to bar disabled university students from litigation funding support

David Gale made this Freedom of Information request to Equality and Human Rights Commission

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Dear Equality and Human Rights Commission,

CONTEXT: A previous FOI response has evidenced that in 2017 the EHRC informed Universities UK and other key stakeholders that it would provide litigation funding for university students making claims for disability discrimination against their universities for those cases that met the EHRC's legal criteria.

It is evidenced from documents already secured from the EHRC that access to such litigation funding support for university students was covertly withdrawn circa 2018 without any notification or consultation with Universities UK or other key stakeholders. Indeed, Universities UK, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, and the Office for Students are still under the impression that university students suffering disability discrimination may receive litigation funding support from the EHRC. For its part, the DfE still erroneously maintains that the OIA can provide legal resolution for disability discrimination claims brought by university students, despite having received written confirmation from the OIA to the contrary. In turn, all of the involved public bodies have confirmed that they have no means of collecting statistics related to disability discrimination suffered by university students and therefore are completely unaware not just of the significant increases of discrimination but also the increase in universities abusing their own internal complaints procedures. To all intents and purposes university students have been left entirely unprotected from disability discrimination perpetrated by their universities within a complete void of regulatory scrutiny and governance.

REQUEST: Please provide sight of minutes, memoranda, policies, procedures, and any other documents that evidence the development, delivery and consultation of the EHRC's policy to focus EHRC disability discrimination litigation funding support on school children, to include any reference that directly or indirectly implies the exclusion of university students from any litigation funding support, as well as any instructions issued to reviewing lawyers or other EHRC staff members to disqualify any applications from litigation funding because of that policy even after they had met the EHRC's legal criteria, to include statistics on the volume of university students who have been denied funding because of the referenced EHRC policy.

Yours faithfully,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Your Freedom of Information Request
 
Thank you for your request, detailed below, which we received on 6 May
2021.
 
 "Please provide sight of minutes, memoranda, policies, procedures, and
any other documents that evidence the development, delivery and
consultation of the EHRC's policy to focus EHRC disability discrimination
litigation funding support on school children, to include any reference
that directly or indirectly implies the exclusion of university students
from any litigation funding support, as well as any instructions issued to
reviewing lawyers or other EHRC staff members to disqualify any
applications from litigation funding because of that policy even after
they had met the EHRC's legal criteria, to include statistics on the
volume of university students who have been denied funding because of the
referenced EHRC policy." 
 
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000. We aim to respond promptly and in any event no later than 20 working
days following the date of receipt of the request; a response should
therefore be with you no later than 4 June 2021. 
 
If you have any queries please contact us using the details below.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8JX

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Your Freedom of Information Request
 
Under section 1(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") we
reasonably require further information in order to identify and locate the
information that you require. 
 
To help us identify and locate the requested information please can you
clarify whether you are seeking:
a) information relating to the development of Goal 2 within our strategic
plan relating to the education system, and if so, what specific records
you are seeking
b) a list of applications for funding support for litigation relating to
university students
c) the Commission's criteria for litigating funding support
 
In order to assist, you may be interested in the following documents:
Our strategic plan:
https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/w...

Our recent research report on human rights education in Great Britain:
https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/site...
 
We will not be able to take this matter further without this extra
information from you. If we do not receive appropriate clarification by 8
July 2021; we will deem this request to be closed.
 
We look forward to hearing from you shortly.
 
If you need assistance, please contact us using the details provided
below.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8JX

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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Dear Information Governance team,

You have asked:

"To help us identify and locate the requested information please can you
clarify whether you are seeking:
a) information relating to the development of Goal 2 within our strategic
plan relating to the education system, and if so, what specific records
you are seeking
b) a list of applications for funding support for litigation relating to
university students
c) the Commission's criteria for litigating funding support"

I believe that the original request is explicit and obvious to a reasonable person:

"Please provide sight of minutes, memoranda, policies, procedures, and
any other documents that evidence the development, delivery and
consultation of the EHRC's policy to focus EHRC disability discrimination
litigation funding support on school children, to include any reference
that directly or indirectly implies the exclusion of university students
from any litigation funding support, as well as any instructions issued to
reviewing lawyers or other EHRC staff members to disqualify any
applications from litigation funding because of that policy even after
they had met the EHRC's legal criteria, to include statistics on the
volume of university students who have been denied funding because of the
referenced EHRC policy."

However, I can confirm that nowhere in my original request is there anything that resembles paragraphs a, b, or c of your request for clarification.

To clarify: I do not want an internalised view of EHRC policy but instead an audit trail view of the policy decision process that excluded university students from litigation funding support; I do not want a list of funding applications for university student cases, just those which met the legal criteria for funding support but fell foul of the age-based policy decision in favour of school children that overrides the EHRC's legal criteria for support; I do not need a view of the legal criteria for litigation funding support as they are already known.

I can clarify that the response should focus on information that evidences the consequential denial of litigation funding support for university students. Other sources have already documented multiple cases. For the avoidance of doubt, I believe that the EHRC's policy as enunciated in its own communications to applicants is unlawful per R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) [2017] UKSC 51.

Lastly, as a reminder, any SRA registered solicitor providing advice on this request should be aware of the requirement to report to the SRA any suspected 'fraud, dishonesty, or serious misconduct', to include other solicitors and their employees. This would equally apply to the EHRC's former CEO, who was the recipient of my earlier letter outlining the unlawfulness of the EHRC's policy, prior to her resignation.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David Gale,
 
Thank you for your email of 18 May 2021. 
 
In accordance with the requirements of Section 10 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, we aim to respond promptly and no later than 20
working days following receipt of your clarification. In this instance a
response should be with you no later than 16 June 2021. 
 
However, please be advised that this may not be possible, owing to the
disruption caused during the pandemic period. If for any reason we are not
able to meet this deadline, we will notify you and give you an indication
of when we will be able to send a full response. 
 
If you have any queries please respond to this email. 
 

EHRC Information Governance Team
Equality and Human Rights Commission

[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre, 
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]equalityhumanrights.com

 

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Dear Information Governance team,

You have asked:

"To help us identify and locate the requested information please can you
clarify whether you are seeking:
a) information relating to the development of Goal 2 within our strategic
plan relating to the education system, and if so, what specific records
you are seeking
b) a list of applications for funding support for litigation relating to
university students
c) the Commission's criteria for litigating funding support"

I believe that the original request is explicit and obvious to a
reasonable person:

"Please provide sight of minutes, memoranda, policies, procedures, and
any other documents that evidence the development, delivery and
consultation of the EHRC's policy to focus EHRC disability discrimination
litigation funding support on school children, to include any reference
that directly or indirectly implies the exclusion of university students
from any litigation funding support, as well as any instructions issued to
reviewing lawyers or other EHRC staff members to disqualify any
applications from litigation funding because of that policy even after
they had met the EHRC's legal criteria, to include statistics on the
volume of university students who have been denied funding because of the
referenced EHRC policy."

However, I can confirm that nowhere in my original request is there
anything that resembles paragraphs a, b, or c of your request for
clarification.

To clarify: I do not want an internalised view of EHRC policy but instead
an audit trail view of the policy decision process that excluded
university students from litigation funding support; I do not want a list
of funding applications for university student cases, just those which met
the legal criteria for funding support but fell foul of the age-based
policy decision in favour of school children that overrides the EHRC's
legal criteria for support; I do not need a view of the legal criteria for
litigation funding support as they are already known.

I can clarify that the response should focus on information that evidences
the consequential denial of litigation funding support for university
students. Other sources have already documented multiple cases. For the
avoidance of doubt, I believe that the EHRC's policy as enunciated in its
own communications to applicants is unlawful per R (on the application of
UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) [2017] UKSC 51.

Lastly, as a reminder, any SRA registered solicitor providing advice on
this request should be aware of the requirement to report to the SRA any
suspected 'fraud, dishonesty, or serious misconduct', to include other
solicitors and their employees. This would equally apply to the EHRC's
former CEO, who was the recipient of my earlier letter outlining the
unlawfulness of the EHRC's policy, prior to her resignation.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

show quoted sections

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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Dear Information Governance team,

Your recent response has included the following statement: "We would not disqualify a case based on the fact that it related to a university. We cannot take on all cases referred to us and decisions are made using the criteria set out in our Litigation and Enforcement Policy. "

I have documentary evidence in the form of an email and recorded telephone call that demonstrate the above statement to be false or that my application for litigation funding assistance was denied in error. A major London-based law firm that was awaiting the funding of my case also confirmed the EHRC policy not to support university students' litigation funding requests, even when they met all of the EHRC's legal criteria. In addition, a senior barrister has also confirmed that her client's application for funding was rejected on the same grounds.

If it is the case that there has been consistent miscommunication within the EHRC to effect a policy that was in error, there must still have been internal communications to cause and propagate that error which would be subject to my FOI request. There must also have been records generated in the attempt to correct the error.

Whilst I appreciate the sensitivities of the EHRC having been caught breaching the Equality Act, it would now be wilfully negligent if the EHRC did not urgently review my case.

Given my additional disability now evidenced as being caused by the Defendant university's prolonged, persistent, and abusive disability discrimination, I request a reasonable adjustment of a telephone call (you have my number) from the EHRC to confirm its corrective endeavours.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Correspondence Team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David 
 
Correspondence 3005876
 
Thank you for your Correspondence to the Information Governance Team
asking for a telephoned call as a reasonable adjustment. 
 
Could you please provide us with your contact number and the best time to
call you?
 
Please respond by clicking on the link below:
[1]Submit your response
 
Kind regards
 
‎Correspondence Team‏
‎[email address]‏ 
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8JX

equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
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1. Submit your response
https://ehrcportal.icasework.com/servlet...

Dear Correspondence Team,

The EHRC already has my full contact details, including telephone number.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Correspondence Team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David 
 
Correspondence 3005876
 
Thank you for your email. We have tried to contact you on the number we
have on your file but we kept on getting a constant engaged tone. Do you
have an alternative number we can contact you on?
 
Kind regards
 
‎Correspondence Team‏
‎[email address]‏ 
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8JX

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Dear Correspondence Team,

The EHRC already has my full contact details, including telephone number.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

show quoted sections

Dear Correspondence Team

I have not received any calls from the EHRC. If my line were engaged, I would still get notification of a call with an option to answer. If I chose not to answer, the EHRC would be prompted to leave a voicemail.

Might it be the case that the EHRC has suffered a catastrophic data loss and that it no longer has records of the detailed communications over a period in excess of two years in which my telephone contact details were provided and used? If that is the case, please provide a designated, legally qualified contact name with telephone number (non-general) on which I can contact the EHRC.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Correspondence Team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David

Thank you for your email in which you now ask for a designated, legally
qualified contact name with a telephone number (non-general) on which you
can contact the EHRC.

As you may be aware, the Correspondence Team is the first point of contact
for external queries.

The Information Governance Team has asked that the Correspondence Team
should, in the first instance, contact you to discuss your request for a
review. If, following the discussion, the Correspondence team member
requires specialist input/response the matter will be passed on to the
relevant team within the Commission.

We would be happy to provide you with a designated contact person and
number from the Correspondence Team if you would still like to discuss the
matter.

Kind regards
 
‎Correspondence Team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8JX

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Dear Correspondence Team

I have not received any calls from the EHRC. If my line were engaged, I
would still get notification of a call with an option to answer. If I
chose not to answer, the EHRC would be prompted to leave a voicemail.

Might it be the case that the EHRC has suffered a catastrophic data loss
and that it no longer has records of the detailed communications over a
period in excess of two years in which my telephone contact details were
provided and used? If that is the case, please provide a designated,
legally qualified contact name with telephone number (non-general) on
which I can contact the EHRC.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

show quoted sections

Dear Correspondence Team,

Can I suggest that the EHRC refrains from its persistent abusive and discriminatory obfuscation and instead digests communications and requests for reasonable adjustments sent in respect of this FOI request?

Your last chance - thereafter I will bounce it to the ICO and consider this escapade a further Equality Act breach.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale,
 
I have been passed your email by the Correspondence team. 
 
Your email of 17 June 2021 appeared to be asking for a review of our
decision not to provide funding for your legal case rather than a review
of our FOI response. I therefore asked the Correspondence team to give you
a call to explain that a request for a review by the legal team would need
to be made by a legal representative. We would suggest the representative
who made the request for funding. However we would usually only consider
reassessing a claim if the request is made within one calendar month of
the decision. It would be advisable therefore to discuss this further with
your legal advisor. 
The Correspondence team did not have a number for you on record and I
provided them with a number on 21 June from a previous FOI request . As
you then emailed to state that you wanted the number of someone legally
qualified, that is why they came back to you to check you would be happy
with a call from them. 
 
I tried to call you on the number we have (ending 360) this evening
however the tone suggested this number may be out of use. If you would
still like a phone call to discuss the above, perhaps you would like to
provide your number through an alternative email address so that it is not
in the public domain. To do so, please just copy the title of this email
into the subject heading and it will be received straight on to your
case. 
Alternatively you can call our Manchester switchboard number 0161 829 8100
and ask to be put through to Cara Taylor. I am free between meetings
tomorrow 9:30 - 10:30 and 11 - 12. If these times are not convenient you
can leave your return number with switchboard and I will give you a call
as soon as I can. 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Cara Taylor
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
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Dear Information Governance team,

I will call the number provided.

However, the FOI request still stands, both in its original form and in the revised format sent in response to the EHRC's claim that it had never had a policy of barring disabled university students from litigation funding support by limiting discrimination case funding to school children.

That claim by the EHRC is confirmed as demonstrably false by multiple legal professionals. As previously stated, if such a policy had been applied in error, there must be internal records concerning the correction of that error. Those records are subject to my FOI request.

Clearly, the EHRC is experiencing some form of meltdown but that does not excuse attempts to mitigate blame by obfuscation.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Thank you for your request for a review received on 29 June 2021. We are
sorry that you are dissatisfied with our attempts to handle your request
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
We can confirm that we are considering your concerns and will aim to
provide you with a response by 27 July 2021.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Internal review
 
We are writing to let you know that we will need some additional time to
respond to your review request. The person conducting the review is
currently on annual leave and will need time to complete the review on
their return. We will aim to provide you with a response by 6 August 2021.
 
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
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Dear Information Governance team,

Thank you for informing me of the anticipated delay.

For the record, I did telephone per the EHRC's earlier invitation (above), left a message for the designated individual, but no response has been received.

For the record, despite multiple emailed assurances that an EHRC lawyer would contact me, no such contact has been forthcoming.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Internal review
 
Further to our email of 26 July, we are writing to let you know that we
will need a further few days to finalise your review response. Please
accept our apologies for this. This extra time is required because we need
to do some final checks with a member of our Legal team who is currently
on leave. We very much hope to be in a position to provide you with a
response by Thursday 12 August.
 
We note you requested a phone call and the person conducting your review
would be happy to arrange this. Please let us know when is convenient
Monday - Thursday next week and we will schedule a call.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
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Dear Information Governance team

I am in receipt of your message containing notification of a further delay.

I can confirm that a scheduled telephone discussion with the person conducting the review should await my sight of the delayed review.

I can also confirm that I am still awaiting contact from an EHRC lawyer that was promised in email communications.

This case, which evidences systemic service failure related to disability discrimination across multiple public bodies, is already the focus of two All Party Parliamentary Groups (disability & whistleblowing) and a TV documentary production company. It is alleged that a student who blew the whistle on the lack of fire escape in a multi-storey law school building in 2015 was targeted for exclusion by a university via prolonged, abusive disability discrimination. The SRA has already confirmed that the statements made by the university in relation to reasonable adjustments for a qualifying law degree were false.

The SRA and ICO are currently investigating multiple instances where it appears that public officers, including SRA regulated professionals, have made knowingly false or misleading statements, and otherwise obstructed investigation and the interests of justice.

If the EHRC has made errors, it is required to review its case funding decision without requiring the individual to resubmit an application from scratch. I would strongly urge the EHRC to play this with a straight bat.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Dear Information Governance team,

Further to my last - contextual information for reference:

https://derbyshireindependent.co.uk/2021...

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

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Dear David Gale
 
Please find attached our response to your review request.
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 

References

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FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal – Legal

Thank you for your review response, and what appears to be a new found openness within the EHRC which is commendable.

However, the records contained within your response are profoundly shocking. I am particularly concerned by the persistent reference in decision records to 'not strategic' , as well as a record of a funding request being rejected because "The Education Aim does not encompass Higher Education." This appears to confirm a further policy process has been taking place after confirmation that cases meet the legal criteria.

Prior to any discussion, it would be helpful to understand why the EHRC doesn't believe that its strategic priorities are not implemented by what would commonly be regarded as 'policy decisions', and why it appears to believe that those policy decisions have an Equality Act exemption.

I should add that FOI responses from the DfE (available via WhatDoTheyKnow.com) have now confirmed that it has no relationship whatever with SASC, no governance over SpLD psychological testing, and that individual universities are left to their own devices to choose whether or not their testing regime is SASC compliant. The DfES branding featured on the SASC SpLD testing guidelines (including the 2018 version) suggests government oversight. The DfE has confirmed that that is not the case. One is left to question the use of DfES branding is for any other purpose other than deception.

Similarly, the EHRC is already aware that the OIA has no remit to rule on discrimination cases and that students have no fee-free access to Employment Tribunal.

The County Court has already demonstrated that it is largely clueless in matters related to disability discrimination, many judges complaining that they are not appropriately trained.

The man of the Clapham omnibus might reasonably conclude that disabled university students are significantly disadvantaged as a result of government's persistent failure to deliver appropriate structures and governance around university disability discrimination, and further disadvantaged by EHRC policy. One has to ask if the current outcomes are those originally intended by Parliament during the drafting of the Equality Act.

I am happy to agree a telephone discussion w/c 23.08.21 and can suggest 11am on Tuesday 24.08.21. Please call me if this doesn't fit your own schedule and we can rearrange.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David Gale

Thank you for your email dated 19 August 2021 in which you sought to
arrange a telephone call for w/c 23 August.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding; unfortunately
your email was not picked up at the time of receipt as it was
automatically added to your file during a period of leave.

If it is convenient for you we would be happy to arrange a call next week
on either Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Please let us know your
preferred date and time and we will make the necessary arrangements.

Yours sincerely

‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission

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FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

Thank you for your review response, and what appears to be a new found
openness within the EHRC which is commendable.

However, the records contained within your response are profoundly
shocking. I am particularly concerned by the persistent reference in
decision records to 'not strategic' , as well as a record of a funding
request being rejected because "The Education Aim does not encompass
Higher Education." This appears to confirm a further policy process has
been taking place after confirmation that cases meet the legal criteria.

Prior to any discussion, it would be helpful to understand why the EHRC
doesn't believe that its strategic priorities are not implemented by what
would commonly be regarded as 'policy decisions', and why it appears to
believe that those policy decisions have an Equality Act exemption.

I should add that FOI responses from the DfE (available via
WhatDoTheyKnow.com) have now confirmed that it has no relationship
whatever with SASC, no governance over SpLD psychological testing, and
that individual universities are left to their own devices to choose
whether or not their testing regime is SASC compliant. The DfES branding
featured on the SASC SpLD testing guidelines (including the 2018 version)
suggests government oversight. The DfE has confirmed that that is not the
case. One is left to question the use of DfES branding is for any other
purpose other than deception.

Similarly, the EHRC is already aware that the OIA has no remit to rule on
discrimination cases and that students have no fee-free access to
Employment Tribunal.

The County Court has already demonstrated that it is largely clueless in
matters related to disability discrimination, many judges complaining that
they are not appropriately trained.

The man of the Clapham omnibus might reasonably conclude that disabled
university students are significantly disadvantaged as a result of
government's persistent failure to deliver appropriate structures and
governance around university disability discrimination, and further
disadvantaged by EHRC policy. One has to ask if the current outcomes are
those originally intended by Parliament during the drafting of the
Equality Act.

I am happy to agree a telephone discussion w/c 23.08.21 and can suggest
11am on Tuesday 24.08.21. Please call me if this doesn't fit your own
schedule and we can rearrange.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

show quoted sections

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal – Legal

Thank you for your response.

I can confirm availability at 11:30am Wednesday 08.09.21. Unless the EHRC has suffered a catastrophic data loss, it already has my contact details.

Given the intense media / public interest in this matter, I will continue to log and publish communications.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David Gale
 
Thank you for your reply. A Bennett has a meeting already scheduled for
11:30 am on Wednesday, but she is happy to call you at 11:00 am instead.
If this alternative time is not suitable please do let us know by return.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission

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FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

Thank you for your response.

I can confirm availability at 11:30am Wednesday 08.09.21. Unless the EHRC
has suffered a catastrophic data loss, it already has my contact details.

Given the intense media / public interest in this matter, I will continue
to log and publish communications.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

show quoted sections

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear David Gale
 
I have just tried to call the telephone number that we have for you on our
file but am getting an engaged tone.  If there is another number that
you'd rather I call, please could you send this to me at
[EHRC request email] and put the following in the subject line:
 
Information request - internal review (ref: 2578544)
 
I look forward to speaking with you.
 
Yours sincerely
 
A Bennett
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

Thank you for your response.

I can confirm availability at 11:30am Wednesday 08.09.21. Unless the EHRC
has suffered a catastrophic data loss, it already has my contact details.

Given the intense media / public interest in this matter, I will continue
to log and publish communications.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

show quoted sections

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear Mr. Gale
 
I've tried to call you again a few times today but am still getting the
engaged/disconnected tone.  Perhaps we could arrange a time that you call
me? I am free between 11am - 2pm on Monday 13th September. If you could
call the same number that you did on Wednesday please, I will let
reception know that you will be calling and ask them to put you straight
through to me.
 
If Monday doesn't work, please let me know when you have availability.
 
Yours sincerely
 
A Bennett
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

Thank you for your response.

I can confirm availability at 11:30am Wednesday 08.09.21. Unless the EHRC
has suffered a catastrophic data loss, it already has my contact details.

Given the intense media / public interest in this matter, I will continue
to log and publish communications.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

show quoted sections

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

I have telephoned your office on three occasions to be told that you were 'not available'. Each time, I have left my contact details together with a request to call me to clarify the EHRC's FOI response. No call has been received.

Whilst I note the previous claim of engaged tones when calling me, I am minded to question any such explanation. Firstly, if I receive a call to my number whilst already on a call, I receive a notification and option to choose to take the new call. Secondly, any unanswered calls would go to my voicemail. Thirdly, unbeknown to the EHRC, I have had telco network engineers crawling over my connections, all of whom report that there have been no lost or missed calls during the period of the EHRC's 'engaged' claim.

I consider the EHRC's conduct abusive. I will ask one more time for a response. If no response is forthcoming, I will regard this as a refusal for the purposes of an FOI response, aggravated by serious professional misconduct (in public office ) which, in turn, may be a matter for the SDT and CPS.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

I am sorry to hear that you haven't been able to get hold of me and am
looking into this with colleagues. 
 
As requested, I've just tried to call your mobile phone number but once
again, got an engaged tone. Perhaps it would be easier if I set up a video
conferencing call? I am free this Friday between 11.30-13.30.  Please let
me know if that time works and let me have a separate email address to
send call details to.
 
I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Kind regards
 
A Bennett

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

I have telephoned your office on three occasions to be told that you were
'not available'. Each time, I have left my contact details together with a
request to call me to clarify the EHRC's FOI response. No call has been
received.

Whilst I note the previous claim of engaged tones when calling me, I am
minded to question any such explanation. Firstly, if I receive a call to
my number whilst already on a call, I receive a notification and option to
choose to take the new call. Secondly, any unanswered calls would go to my
voicemail. Thirdly, unbeknown to the EHRC, I have had telco network
engineers crawling over my connections, all of whom report that there have
been no lost or missed calls during the period of the EHRC's 'engaged'
claim.

I consider the EHRC's conduct abusive. I will ask one more time for a
response. If no response is forthcoming, I will regard this as a refusal
for the purposes of an FOI response, aggravated by serious professional
misconduct (in public office ) which, in turn, may be a matter for the SDT
and CPS.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

show quoted sections

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

Your office has my email and telephone contact details. I suggest that you check the already provided number to verify that you have been calling the correct number. Unless you have concealed your number when calling, it is not possible for you to receive an engaged tome when calling my personal mobile number without me being notified of a call waiting. Network engineers have confirmed that there have been no missed calls.

Having left my contact details three times, it cannot be beyond the wit of man for your office to return my calls and provide your personal mobile contact number.

I will be happy to provide your office with an email address upon their contact on the number already provided to them. They will need to have available details of the proposed video conference platform, choosing from MS Teams or Skype. Provisionally, I can confirm availability for 11:30am Friday 22.10.21.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 Attachments

Dear David Gale

We have tried to call you this morning but again have been unable to get
through as we are greeted with a beeping tone.

A Bennett will be on annual leave from Friday until Monday 1 November with
very limited availability before this. She does have a slot at 9:30am
tomorrow if that works for you; otherwise it will need to wait until she
returns in November.

In terms of the video conference platform, we use Webex and would need to
receive your personal email address to set up a meeting. If, however, you
would prefer to use Teams then we would be happy for you to set this up
and provide us with the meeting link. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance team
Equality and Human Rights Commission

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

FAO: A Bennett - Senior Principal - Legal

Your office has my email and telephone contact details. I suggest that you
check the already provided number to verify that you have been calling the
correct number. Unless you have concealed your number when calling, it is
not possible for you to receive an engaged tome when calling my personal
mobile number without me being notified of a call waiting. Network
engineers have confirmed that there have been no missed calls.

Having left my contact details three times, it cannot be beyond the wit of
man for your office to return my calls and provide your personal mobile
contact number.

I will be happy to provide your office with an email address upon their
contact on the number already provided to them. They will need to have
available details of the proposed video conference platform, choosing from
MS Teams or Skype. Provisionally, I can confirm availability for 11:30am
Friday 22.10.21.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

show quoted sections

Dear Information Governance team - FAO: A Bennett

It appears that any telco issues are at the EHRC's end. Although I have had conversations and left messages and contact details via the main EHRC telephone contact number, on a number of occasions the main EHRC number has not been answered, to include two attempts earlier today.

Having checked with my telco provider that all is well at my end, to include a detailed analysis of connections carried out by network engineers, and having communicated without issue with everyone else, can you confirm that you have had or are experiencing telecomms issues?

Please try to contact me again - this time, make a log and screenshot of the exact time that you called.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Dear Mr Gale

Thank you for your email. We have reported your concerns to our ICT team.

With respect to your request for a further call, unfortunately, as
outlined in our emails yesterday, the 9:30am slot this morning was the
only time A Bennett had availability to speak with you before going on
leave.

We can arrange a meeting to take place on her return from leave and can
offer you a 1pm meeting with her on one of the following dates:

* Tuesday 2 November
* Wednesday 3 November
* Thursday 4 November

As noted previously, the Commission uses Webex as its videoconferencing
platform, however, if you would like to use Teams we would be happy for
you to set up the meeting and send us the link.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance team
Equality and Human Rights Commission

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Information Governance team - FAO: A Bennett

It appears that any telco issues are at the EHRC's end. Although I have
had conversations and left messages and contact details via the main EHRC
telephone contact number, on a number of occasions the main EHRC number
has not been answered, to include two attempts earlier today.

Having checked with my telco provider that all is well at my end, to
include a detailed analysis of connections carried out by network
engineers, and having communicated without issue with everyone else, can
you confirm that you have had or are experiencing telecomms issues?

Please try to contact me again - this time, make a log and screenshot of
the exact time that you called.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

show quoted sections

Dear Information Governance team

I can confirm my availability for 1pm on Thursday 04.11.21.

I don't see any reason for video conferencing. Given the subject matter, it adds nothing to the substance of the meeting.

The EHRC has my telephone contact details. If there is a problem with your office lines, please use a mobile phone.

If I haven't received a call by 1.05pm on Thursday, I will call the main EHRC number.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance Team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 Attachments

Thank you for emailing us on 2 November 2021.

 

Unfortunately, due to a technical problem with the delivery of some emails
into our case management system, we were only able to see the sender and
subject heading of your email. Please could you re-send the email to the
address used previously and we will endeavour to deal with your
correspondence as soon as possible.

If you are making a Freedom of Information request please direct this to
[EHRC request email]

 

Many thanks and apologies for the inconvenience.

 

EHRC Information Governance Team
Equality and Human Rights Commission

[email address]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre, 
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]equalityhumanrights.com

 

[2]Sign up for our e-newsletter

 

[3]Equality and Human Rights Commission logo

 

Note: To see how we use your personal data, please go to
[4]https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/p... on our website to
read our Privacy Notice. If you would like us to send you a copy of the
Privacy Notice please write to: [5][email address]

 

show quoted sections

Dear Information Governance Team

Per your response and request of 04.11.21, I am resending my communication of the 02.11.21. Please confirm receipt by calling me on the number already held within your records.

Original message of 02.11.21:

Dear Information Governance team

I can confirm my availability for 1pm on Thursday 04.11.21.

I don't see any reason for video conferencing. Given the subject matter, it adds nothing to the substance of the meeting.

The EHRC has my telephone contact details. If there is a problem with your office lines, please use a mobile phone.

If I haven't received a call by 1.05pm on Thursday [04.11.21], I will call the main EHRC number.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Dear Ms Bennett

Further to our conversation earlier today, the EHRC has confirmed that it will provide sight of the missing information as enunciated in my original request, to include sight of records of cases from January 2017 to May 2019, with details of approval / rejection and any associated reasons.

The FOI request would also include internal records relating to discussion of the legality of the EHRC's strategic priorities (aims) and, in particular, whether those priorities were disproportionate or discriminatory in their impact on university students.

I can confirm that FOI responses from numerous stakeholder bodies evidence that, in 2017, the EHRC circulated a letter confirming its litigation funding support for university students. The EHRC's 2018 refocus away from university student litigation funding support was not followed by a letter to the involved stakeholders. As a result, those stakeholder organisations have been assuming that litigation funding for university student cases was continuing as announced by the EHRC in 2017. The result is a complete regulatory void and spiralling increases in university disability discrimination cases, as reported by the Guardian newspaper and the BBC.

Over the past two years, I have suggested to government a workable solution, not only to address the regulatory void around university discrimination cases, but also to address the similar plight of pensioners and the unemployed who also have no access to fee-free tribunal. I have suggested that the remit of the Employment Tribunal be widened to become the Employment & Equalities Tribunal, making better use of the specialist skills within justice system. My suggestion was forwarded to the EHRC but no response has been forthcoming. I would appreciate confirmation of the EHRC's support.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Dear Ms Bennett

Further to our conversation and my What Do They Know response of 05.11.21, I have yet to receive a written confirmation or response on the EHRC's commitment to provide the sight of the outstanding records within twenty working days (03.12.21).

I am mindful that the information already provided evidences unlawful discrimination by the EHRC in its litigation funding procedures but that information is missing the context of the records that predate the so far limited response.

To note, I have also not yet received the promised telephone contact from the principal lawyer involved in the EHRC's litigation funding decisions.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Dear Information Governance Team

Communications audit trail:

Message left by David Gale via telephone 13:14 09.12.21 with request for Alexis Bennett - EHRC to contact me ref WDTK comms (above) of 05.11.21 and 05.12.21 - telephone number provided.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Gale
 
Thank you for your email dated 5 December 2021 regarding an outstanding
response to your recent Freedom of Information request.
 
Further to our telephone call of 5 November 2021 my colleague wrote to
you, the same day, to provide a written note of the information requested
and to seek  verification of the request. Your email received at 14:01 on
5 November appeared to confirm receipt of this email and verification of
the information being requested. We therefore took that date as the date
of receipt.
 
We are required to respond to requests promptly, and by the twentieth
working day following the date of receipt of the request.

A working day is defined in the Freedom of Information Act as

'…any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a
day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act
1971 in any part of the United Kingdom'.

[1]ICO guidance 'Time limits for compliance under the Freedom of
Information Act (Section 10)' sates that: 

 1. Authorities should take particular note that any day which is a bank
holiday in any one of the four nations comprising the UK will be a
non-working day for the purposes of the FOIA.
 2. For example, St. Patrick's Day can be counted as a non-working day in
all countries covered by the legislation, even though it is only a
bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and not in England Scotland or
Wales.

Please note that Tuesday 30 November 2021 was a public holiday in Scotland
(St. Andrew's Day).  As such, we calculated 20 working days as being 6
December 2021.

You will by now have received the response to your request which was sent
to you on 6 December 2021 and I trust this addresses your concern.

Yours sincerely

A Bennett

Senior Principal

‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[2]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[3]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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show quoted sections

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Please note we would like to recall this response as it is incomplete. A
new response will be issued shortly.
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Gale
 
Thank you for your email dated 5 December 2021 regarding an outstanding
response to your recent Freedom of Information request.
 
Further to our telephone call of 5 November 2021 my colleague wrote to
you, the same day, to provide a written note of the information requested
and to seek  verification of the request. Your email received at 14:01 on
5 November appeared to confirm receipt of this email and verification of
the information being requested. We therefore took that date as the date
of receipt.
 
We are required to respond to requests promptly, and by the twentieth
working day following the date of receipt of the request.

A working day is defined in the Freedom of Information Act as

'…any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a
day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act
1971 in any part of the United Kingdom'.

[1]ICO guidance 'Time limits for compliance under the Freedom of
Information Act (Section 10)' sates that: 

 1. Authorities should take particular note that any day which is a bank
holiday in any one of the four nations comprising the UK will be a
non-working day for the purposes of the FOIA.
 2. For example, St. Patrick's Day can be counted as a non-working day in
all countries covered by the legislation, even though it is only a
bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and not in England Scotland or
Wales.

Please note that Tuesday 30 November 2021 was a public holiday in Scotland
(St. Andrew's Day).  As such, we calculated 20 working days as being 6
December 2021.

You will by now have received the response to your request which was sent
to you on 6 December 2021 and I trust this addresses your concern.

Yours sincerely

A Bennett

Senior Principal

‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[2]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[3]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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show quoted sections

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 2578544

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Gale
 
Thank you for your email dated 5 December 2021 in which you raised
concerns about a lack of response to your earlier contact.
 
Further to our telephone call of 5 November 2021 my colleague wrote to
you, the same day, to provide a written note of the information requested
and to seek  verification of the request. Your email received at 14:01 on
5 November appeared to confirm receipt of this email and verification of
the information being requested. We therefore took that date as the date
of receipt.
 
We are required to respond to requests promptly, and by the twentieth 
working day following the date of receipt of the request.

A working day is defined in the Freedom of Information Act as

'…any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a
day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act
1971 in any part of the United Kingdom'.

[1]ICO guidance 'Time limits for compliance under the Freedom of
Information Act (Section 10)' sates that: 

 1. Authorities should take particular note that any day which is a bank
holiday in any one of the four nations comprising the UK will be a
non-working day for the purposes of the FOIA.
 2. For example, St. Patrick's Day can be counted as a non-working day in
all countries covered by the legislation, even though it is only a
bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and not in England Scotland or
Wales.

Please note that Tuesday 30 November 2021 was a public holiday in Scotland
(St. Andrew's Day).  As such, we calculated 20 working days as being 6
December 2021.

You will by now have received the response to your request which was sent
to you on 6 December 2021 and I trust this addresses your concern.

As outlined in our call, my involvement in your enquiry related solely to
the FOI review and not to your request for a legal review.

I understand from colleagues that in our letters of 26 March 2019 and 22
May 2020, your request for assistance was unsuccessful and you were told
there was no further right of review or appeal to the Commission against
this decision. During our call, I agreed to speak to our Head of
Intelligence & Impact but do not recall committing to them calling you.

Unfortunately, I need to refer you back to our original decisions on this.
I believe that you were previously signposted to both the: 

* [2]Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) for support as an
individual on issues relating to equality and human rights; and
* [3]Parliamentary Health and Service Ombudsman (PHSO) if you remained
dissatisfied with our decision. 

I would encourage you to make contact with the above if you still remain
dissatisfied.

Yours sincerely

A Bennett

Senior Principal

‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[4]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[5]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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show quoted sections

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Gale
 
Thank you for your email received this afternoon in which you asked for Ms
Bennett to contact you regarding your WTDK communications dated 5 November
2021 and 5 December 2021. I am sorry to advise that Ms Bennett will not
have availability to speak with you this side of Christmas due competing
demands on her time.
 
If the purpose of the call is to seek a review of the response to your
Freedom of Information request then please do let us know setting out your
reasons. If you would find it difficult to set our your reasons by email
and would prefer to do this by phone, please let us know and we will
arrange for a member of the team to call you.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Information Governance Team
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 

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show quoted sections

Dear Information Governance team

1. For the avoidance of doubt, the full ‘What Do They Know’ (WDTK) communications audit trail is available at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

2. The EHRC has already been through a review process. The outstanding records are those discussed by the EHRC with me by telephone on 05.11.21, summarised in my message of the same date, of which the EHRC is fully aware.

3. The records retrieved so far evidence EHRC rejections of litigation funding requests from university students in circumstances where their cases met the full legal criteria for EHRC funding, solely on the basis, not on the merits of individual cases, but on an EHRC focus on school children (who already have fee-free access to justice) that disproportionately disadvantages disabled university students. It is also evidenced that key stakeholders had not been informed of the EHRC’s policy reversal circa 2018. As a result, those key stakeholder organisations have been under the mistaken impression that the EHRC was still funding university students’ discrimination cases against universities.

4. The EHRC's third response of 09.12.21 states as follows:
"You will by now have received the response to your request which was sent to you on 6 December 2021 and I trust this addresses your concern."

The WDTK audit trail evidences that no such (06.12.21) response has been received by me from the EHRC.
I note too that the message received by the EHRC from me at 14:01 on 05.11.21 was sent via WDTK. The WDTK audit trail confirms that no response to that message has been received by me from the EHRC.

5. The EHRC's third response of 09.12.21 also states:
"As outlined in our call, my involvement in your enquiry related solely to the FOI review and not to your request for a legal review."

"I understand from colleagues that in our letters of 26 March 2019 and 22 May 2020, your request for assistance was unsuccessful and you were told there was no further right of review or appeal to the Commission against this decision. During our call, I agreed to speak to our Head of Intelligence & Impact but do not recall committing to them calling you."

Notwithstanding Alexis Bennett's recorded (05.12.21) commitment to escalate the issue for “a response from the Head of I&I” (Intelligence & Impact), and despite my focus on pursuing an investigation on behalf of university students that have been subject of the EHRC's unlawfully discriminatory decision-making process on litigation funding, the EHRC has instead chosen to reference my personal case in its FOI response. This is a serious data protection breach.

6. The records retrieved to date evidence serious discriminatory, unlawful conduct by the EHRC in respect of litigation funding decisions and the related policy. The EHRC is duty bound to review: a) its own unlawful policies, b) all litigation funding decisions impacted by unlawful policy.

7. The EHRC's fourth message of 09.12.21 includes two attached copies of the same WDTK message from me dated 09.12.21 @13:20. Those messages serve only to provide an audit trail of my telephone call of 09.12.21.
That fourth message (09.12.21) from the EHRC contains a reference to an internal review. The EHRC is already aware of its recorded commitments of 05.11.21 to provide the records that have previously been withheld. A summary of the missing records is contained in my WDTK message of 05.11.21.

8. The records provided to date indicate unlawful conduct by the EHRC in directly discriminating against university students in litigation funding decisions. Any attempt to conceal that unlawful activity by an SRA registered lawyer would constitute serious misconduct / dishonesty.

9. It is clear that the EHRC's responses have moved from a phase of incompetence to a now evidenced phase of a concerted effort by the EHRC to obfuscate and conceal documents that it knows evidence serious disability discrimination against university students.

10. The EHRC's fourth message of 09.12.21 confirms the EHRC's technical capability to send documentary attachments within the WDTK audit trail. The EHRC claims to have sent the outstanding records on 06.12.21.

11. Given that the EHRC claims to have already identified the relevant documents and has evidenced its ability to include them within a WDTK audit trail, the EHRC has until 5pm Friday 17.12.21 to provide the outstanding documents. Failure to provide the documents via the provided WDTK audit trail by this Friday’s deadline will be regarded as a refusal under the FOIA. Any related complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office will include a section 77 FOIA referral for the criminal offence of deliberately withholding records.

12. Lastly, with regards to the EHRC’s reference to redress via the PHSO. I note that my letter of 12.02.21 to Rebecca Hilsenrath, the then CEO of the EHRC, has not received a formal response, despite the content alluding to serious unlawful conduct by the EHRC, against the very individuals whose disability rights the EHRC is commissioned to protect. I note that during the period under my investigation, Rebecca Hilsenrath was simultaneously the CEO and Chief Legal Officer of the EHRC, and that shortly after receiving my letter, Mrs Hilsenrath resigned her post to become Director of External Affairs, Strategy and Communications …of the PHSO.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Dear Information Governance team,

This request has been referred to the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Gale

Thank you for your email dated 15 December 2021 in which you raise a
number of concerns.

With respect to the FOI response missing from the WDTK audit trail, we can
confirm that the response was sent to your personal email address on 6
December 2021. For the benefit of the WDTK audit trail, a copy of that
response (with your email redacted) is attached.

We note that you have also raised concerns about a section of text within
our email of 9 December 2021 which makes brief reference to your contact
with the Commission. This text was included as a reply to a concern you
raised via this forum; however given your concerns we have asked WDTK
administrators to redact this section of our response. Do let us know if
you consider any further information needs to be redacted.

We ordinarily respond to individuals via the forum through which they have
contacted us. In future, it would greatly assist us if you do not raise
issues via WDTK that you do not want replied to on there. Please instead
contact us via [1][email address]

We trust this addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Team
Equality and Human Rights Commission

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Information Governance team

1. For the avoidance of doubt, the full 'What Do They Know' (WDTK)
communications audit trail is available at:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

2. The EHRC has already been through a review process. The outstanding
records are those discussed by the EHRC with me by telephone on 05.11.21,
summarised in my message of the same date, of which the EHRC is fully
aware.

3. The records retrieved so far evidence EHRC rejections of litigation
funding requests from university students in circumstances where their
cases met the full legal criteria for EHRC funding, solely on the basis,
not on the merits of individual cases, but on an EHRC focus on school
children (who already have fee-free access to justice) that
disproportionately disadvantages disabled university students. It is also
evidenced that key stakeholders had not been informed of the EHRC's policy
reversal circa 2018. As a result, those key stakeholder organisations have
been under the mistaken impression that the EHRC was still funding
university students' discrimination cases against universities.

4. The EHRC's third response of 09.12.21 states as follows:
"You will by now have received the response to your request which was sent
to you on 6 December 2021 and I trust this addresses your concern."

The WDTK audit trail evidences that no such (06.12.21) response has been
received by me from the EHRC.
I note too that the message received by the EHRC from me at 14:01 on
05.11.21 was sent via WDTK. The WDTK audit trail confirms that no response
to that message has been received by me from the EHRC.

5. The EHRC's third response of 09.12.21 also states:
"As outlined in our call, my involvement in your enquiry related solely to
the FOI review and not to your request for a legal review."

"I understand from colleagues that in our letters of 26 March 2019 and 22
May 2020, your request for assistance was unsuccessful and you were told
there was no further right of review or appeal to the Commission against
this decision. During our call, I agreed to speak to our Head of
Intelligence & Impact but do not recall committing to them calling you."

Notwithstanding Alexis Bennett's recorded (05.12.21) commitment to
escalate the issue for 'a response from the Head of I&I' (Intelligence &
Impact), and despite my focus on pursuing an investigation on behalf of
university students that have been subject of the EHRC's unlawfully
discriminatory decision-making process on litigation funding, the EHRC has
instead chosen to reference my personal case in its FOI response. This is
a serious data protection breach.

6. The records retrieved to date evidence serious discriminatory, unlawful
conduct by the EHRC in respect of litigation funding decisions and the
related policy. The EHRC is duty bound to review: a) its own unlawful
policies, b) all litigation funding decisions impacted by unlawful policy.

7. The EHRC's fourth message of 09.12.21 includes two attached copies of
the same WDTK message from me dated 09.12.21 @13:20. Those messages serve
only to provide an audit trail of my telephone call of 09.12.21.
That fourth message (09.12.21) from the EHRC contains a reference to an
internal review. The EHRC is already aware of its recorded commitments of
05.11.21 to provide the records that have previously been withheld. A
summary of the missing records is contained in my WDTK message of
05.11.21.

8. The records provided to date indicate unlawful conduct by the EHRC in
directly discriminating against university students in litigation funding
decisions. Any attempt to conceal that unlawful activity by an SRA
registered lawyer would constitute serious misconduct / dishonesty.

9. It is clear that the EHRC's responses have moved from a phase of
incompetence to a now evidenced phase of a concerted effort by the EHRC to
obfuscate and conceal documents that it knows evidence serious disability
discrimination against university students.

10. The EHRC's fourth message of 09.12.21 confirms the EHRC's technical
capability to send documentary attachments within the WDTK audit trail.
The EHRC claims to have sent the outstanding records on 06.12.21.

11. Given that the EHRC claims to have already identified the relevant
documents and has evidenced its ability to include them within a WDTK
audit trail, the EHRC has until 5pm Friday 17.12.21 to provide the
outstanding documents. Failure to provide the documents via the provided
WDTK audit trail by this Friday's deadline will be regarded as a refusal
under the FOIA. Any related complaint to the Information Commissioner's
Office will include a section 77 FOIA referral for the criminal offence of
deliberately withholding records.

12. Lastly, with regards to the EHRC's reference to redress via the PHSO.
I note that my letter of 12.02.21 to Rebecca Hilsenrath, the then CEO of
the EHRC, has not received a formal response, despite the content alluding
to serious unlawful conduct by the EHRC, against the very individuals
whose disability rights the EHRC is commissioned to protect. I note that
during the period under my investigation, Rebecca Hilsenrath was
simultaneously the CEO and Chief Legal Officer of the EHRC, and that
shortly after receiving my letter, Mrs Hilsenrath resigned her post to
become Director of External Affairs, Strategy and Communications …of the
PHSO.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

show quoted sections

Dear Information Governance team,

I am in receipt of your response of 05.01.22.

1. The attached 'Appendix A Summary Table' document does not provide the requested disclosure, the last record being dated 28/08/2018. The EHRC is aware that it has already provided a somewhat similar list from June 2019 onwards, to include references to barring university students from litigation funding support because of EHRC 'policy objectives'. I still have yet to have sight of records from 28.08.18 to 31.05.19. I note too that either the EHRC radically altered its decision logging procedures or the later supplied version has been created as a sanitised version of the actual record.

This is not a trifling matter since the first supplied (12.08.21 via WDTK) record evidences the impact of the disproportionate and discriminatory policy applied by the EHRC to requests for litigation support from university students.

2. WDTK communications have been used for the sole purpose of the FOI request (see para 5 of my message of 15.12.21).

3. No communication method other than WDTK has been used by me for this FOI request, with the exception of one telephone call (05.11.21) arranged via WDTK.

4. The referenced telephone call of 05.11.21 and subsequent WDTK message from me left the EHRC in no doubt exactly what had been agreed to be provided from the list of outstanding matters relating to the FOI request.

The EHRC had the opportunity for an internal review many months ago. The matter is already before the ICO and, particularly given the prolonged obfuscation and altered records format, I see no reason to review the ICO's engagement, to include a section 77 FOIA investigation.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale