“Errors in the Charity Commission’s decision on Church of Scientology (England and Wales)”

Tristan Stewart made this Freedom of Information request to Sunderland City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Sunderland City Council of their handling of this request.

Tristan Stewart

Dear Sunderland City Council,

You response to this FOIA request:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fo...

includes a letter which contains the following text:

"I have read your paper entitled "Errors in the Charity Commission’s decision on Church of Scientology (England and Wales)”, provided under cover of [Peter Hodkin's] letter dated 5th September 2006."

(p.97 of http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/46... )

Please provide the letter from Peter Hodkin, together with the document "Errors in the Charity Commission’s decision on Church of Scientology (England and Wales)" which was enclosed with it. Please also provide any other documents enclosed with that letter, and the council's response to that letter.

Yours faithfully,

Tristan Stewart

Solicitor - Freedom of Information, Sunderland City Council

Dear Mr Stewart

Thank you for your email below - your request has been logged under
Customer No 1636, Request No 2560.

Please note that this request is refused on the following grounds -

In the first instance, your current request clearly stems from your
earlier request (Request No 2492) for various word-searches of Council
systems. In our response to this earlier request, you were notified
that significant amounts of officer time had been expended in connection
with determining what information was held in response to your request,
locating it and extracting it into a form that could be released to you.
I can confirm that the work involved in actioning the e-mail searches
alone totalled more than the 2.5 days limit provided for in regulations.

In this case, your request for "...the letter from Peter Hodkin,
together with the document "Errors in the Charity Commission's decision
on Church of Scientology (England and Wales)" which was enclosed with
it...[and]...any other documents enclosed with that letter, and the
council's response to that letter." Is clearly and inextricably linked
to your original information request. In this regard it is considered
to relate to a significant extent to the same information. That is,
your initial request sought to identify electronically held information
relating to business rates relief for a particular account and your
latest request asks for thematically similar information.

As this request has been received well within a period of 60 consecutive
working days from your last enquiry, the Council has aggregated the
costs of compliance with those incurred in connection with your earlier
request, as detailed above.

Given that your earlier request has effectively exhausted such 'fees
limit time' as the Council would be expected to make available under
Regulation 3(3) of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Fees and Limits) Regulations 2004 (S.I. 2004 No. 3244), it
is clear that responding to your request of 5 October 2010 would involve
further officer resources over and above the 'required' amount. Your
request is therefore refused on the grounds of costs under Section
12(1), FOI Act, aggregated as permitted under Regulation 5(1)(a) and
5(2) of S.I. 2004 No 3244.

It is appropriate at this point to mention that the Council considers
the current rush of FOI requests connected with scientology and rates
relief - including your own - to have been made by different persons
acting in concert or in pursuit of a campaign (concerning the granting
of rate relief to particular organisations) and can, therefore, be
aggregated for the purposes of costs estimation. Indeed, your latest
request would appear to duplicate certain aspects of a request already
received ( from a Mr William Thackeray ) on 26 August 2010. I can
confirm that the total officer time expended in 'determination,
location, retrieval and extraction' activities (Regulation 4(3), S.I.
2004 No 3244 refers) covering all of these requests will clearly exceed
the statutory limit. Accordingly, your request of 5 October 2010 would
also be considered eligible for aggregation with these other
individuals' enquiries and, thus, for refusal on costs grounds.

I appreciate this may not be the response you had hoped for, but trust
you can appreciate the Council's position.

If you are unhappy with this response, you may request a further review.
This will be coordinated by the Council's Information Manager. A request
for further review should be addressed to the Information Manager, PO
Box 100, Civic Centre, Sunderland, SR2 7DN. You are, of course, also
entitled to refer to the Information Commissioner at any time, but
should note that the Commissioner will normally expect the Council's
arrangements for review to have been followed first, before
progressing his own investigation.

Yours sincerely

O Thomas
Sunderland City Council

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Tristan Stewart

Dear Sunderland City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Sunderland City Council's handling of my FOI request '“Errors in the Charity Commission’s decision on Church of Scientology (England and Wales)”'.

Although it is obviously the case that this FOIA request arises out of information received from an earlier one (I say 'obviously' because I state that on the first line of this request), I do not agree that it is a request for the same or similar information.

I agree that the information is on the same topic, but that does not make it 'the same or similar information'.

I do not agree that this request is part of an organised campaign.

I have looked up on the whatdotheyknow.com website Mr Thackeray's request:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sc...
and I see that your response to his request was that no information was held.

This request therefore cannot be for the same or similar information (because the information requested by Mr Thackeray was not held, and this information is held, therefore it must be different information).

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

Please pass on my thanks to Mr or Ms O Thomas and his/her colleagues for their assistance so far in this matter. I do appreciate their help.

I do understand that the Council has limited resources. This matter has been declared by both the Information Tribunal and the Information Commissioner to be of significant public interest; it involves a large sum of public money.

Cases:
Mr William Thackeray v Information Commissioner and the Common Council of the City of London (EA/2009/00958)
ICO Decision notice FS50265544

Yours faithfully,

Tristan Stewart

Solicitor - Freedom of Information, Sunderland City Council

Dear Mr Stewart,

It would appear you have looked up the incorrect William Thackeray
request. The request referred to in my e-mail below was received by the
Council on 26 August, and can be found at
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/51...
ncoming-117033

As per your wishes, your case will now be referred for review.

Kind regards,

O Thomas
Sunderland City Council

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Tristan Stewart

Dear O,

Re:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/51...
I see you haven't provided any substantive reply to that request, and the legal deadline for you to do so expired some time ago.

If your response to that request includes the information I'm looking for, then you're welcome to just refer me to that response.

So yes, please do go ahead with the review - I don't see any legitimate reason why you should not respond to this FOIA request.

Yours sincerely,

Tristan Stewart

Tristan Stewart

Dear Sunderland City Council,

Also, re your comment about "the current rush of FOI requests connected with scientology and rates relief" - that'll be because Sunderland recently granted rates relief to the Scientologists.

Before the rates relief was applied for and granted, there was nothing to enquire about on this topic.

Once relief was granted, it was reported in the media (e.g. BBC, Private Eye) and that's evidently stimulated some interest.

Yours faithfully,

Tristan Stewart

Solicitor - Freedom of Information, Sunderland City Council

Dear Sir,

I am writing to advise you that a response to your Freedom of
Information review will
be provided within 40 working days from the receipt of your review
request. The reason
for the extension is due to the large volume of information being
considered following
receipt of a number of requests for information relating to Scientology.

Regards

Mr Darren Rigg

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Sunderland City Council

Dear Mr Stewart

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000 Your request for information
concerning the Church of Scientology Religious Education College
Inc. Reference No: 2560, Customer No: 1636

I refer to your posting dated 7th October 2010, on the
‘WhatDoTheyKnow’ website. The information you have requested
overlaps with Mr Thackeray’s request for information (Reference No:
2466, Customer No:1490) also published on the website.

In order to avoid submission of similar requests for information, I
would be grateful if you could refer to the Council’s response to
Mr Thackeray’s request.

Yours sincerely Mrs. V. Gamble

Anastasia left an annotation ()

The requested document is on page 62 of the following:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/45...

Roland Rashleigh-Berry left an annotation ()

This document has been extracted and can be downloaded here:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=VOSVPYNT

Roland Rashleigh-Berry left an annotation ()

The above extracted document needs to be converted to a searchable PDF. Can somebody please do this?