Free Masons / Councillors Occupations

S Smith (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Kent County Council

Waiting for an internal review by Kent County Council of their handling of this request.

From: S Smith (Account suspended)

20 September 2008

Dear Sir or Madam,

Are county or district councillors required to state whether or not
they are members of the Free Masons?

Please name all members

Is this a requirement on their declarations of interest form?

Are all councillors required to state their occupation or if they
dont work and what is the penalty for not complying?

Yours faithfully,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

22 September 2008

Dear S Smith

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

I acknowledge receipt of your request for information under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 and will endeavour to supply the data to you as
soon as possible, but no later than 20 October (within 20 working days
from date of receipt).

I will advise you ASAP if there are exemptions to be considered and/or
any costs for providing the information to you.

If you have any queries about this response, please contact Caroline
Dodge. Please remember to quote reference number FOI/08/698 in any
future communications

regards

Debbie Percvial
Access to Records Officer
Children Families & Education
Room 2.35 Sessions House
Maidstone ME14 1XQ
01622 696357 (VPN 7000 6357)
[email address]

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Link to this

Kent County Council

17 October 2008

Dear S Smith

Thank you for your request for information.

Elected Members must Register and Declare an interest as a Freemason if
their membership includes membership of the charitable arm of what would
otherwise be a non-charitable association, i.e. the Grand Charity, unless
they have opted out of such membership.

The register of interests for each of the 84 county councillors (this
includes any employment or business) is already accessible to you via our
website. [1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ....
Please click on each councillor's name to access this also details of
committee membership, community leadership, party related transactions and
annual report. Members have to comply with the Members Code of Conduct.
This is also on our website
[2]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ....

I hope this satisfies your request. If you have a query with the
information provided, please contact me on 01622 221652. However, if you
are unhappy with this response, and believe KCC has not complied with
legislation, please ask for a review by following our complaints process;
details can be found at this link
[3]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...
on our website. Please quote reference FOI/08/698.

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.102, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[4]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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Alex Skene left an annotation ( 4 November 2008)

Quote-marks Fixed links:
http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...
http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

I did a quick google search & following was the search criteria:

site:kent.gov.uk filetype:pdf "registrable interests"
=> 85 results of the councillor's declarations of interests (which is nearly all of them)

site:kent.gov.uk filetype:pdf "registrable interests" (mason OR freemason OR "grand charity" OR lodge OR masonic)
=> 3 results found, 2 of which are councillors registering their Masonic memberships: James Edward Scholes & Thomas Gates

Link to this

From: S Smith (Account suspended)

6 February 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Kent County Council's
handling of my FOI request 'Free Masons / Councillors Occupations'.

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

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

6 February 2009

Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry you are unhappy with my response to your request for
information.

However, as we did not withhold any information from you nor did we exceed
the statutory timescales for replying to you, we are unclear as to why you
are seeking an internal review of our response and would be grateful if
you could clarify why you are dissatisfied as we are unable to proceed
without further clarification.

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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Link to this

From: S Smith (Account suspended)

7 February 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

'Elected Members must Register and Declare an interest as a
Freemason if their membership includes membership of the charitable
arm of what would otherwise be a non-charitable association, i.e.
the Grand Charity,
unless they have opted out of such membership.'

To clarify, according to the above statement it appears Councillors
are able to hide whether or not they belong to a Masonic Lodge.

Therefore, could you please refer to and forward the legislation,
which supports the KCC statement?

And name any further Councillors apart from those already supplied:

Conservative County Councillor Tunbridge Wells South

James Scholes (Wickham Court Masonic Lodge Bromley)

Conservative County Councillor Faversham

Thomas Gates (Manor of Faversham Masonic Lodge)

as requested?

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

10 February 2009


Attachment FOI 08 698 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF REQUEST FOR REVIEW RECEIVED 6th FEBRUARY 2009.html
4K Download


Dear S Smith

Thank you for your email. Can I presume that you no longer wish us to
review our response to your original request for information (see
attached) and have submitted a new request instead?

Assuming this to be the case, I acknowledge your new request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Assuming we hold
this information, I will endeavour to supply the data to you as soon as
possible but no later than 9th March 2009 (20 working days from date of
receipt).
I will advise you as soon as possible if we do not hold this information
or if there are exemptions to be considered and/or any costs for providing
the information. Please quote our reference - FOI/09/122 - in any
communication regarding this new request.

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

10 February 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Quote 'Thank you for your email. Can I presume that you no longer
wish us to
review our response to your original request for information (see
attached) and have submitted a new request instead?'

Your assumption is incorrect , you asked for clarification of why
an internal review was requested.

Therefore, please refer to previous emails on the
6th February 2009 seeking an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

10 February 2009


Attachment FOI 08 698 RESPONSE TO FOI REQUEST RECEIVED 22nd SEPTEMBER 2008.html
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Attachment FOI 09 122 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO FOI REQUEST RECEIVED 9th FEBRUARY 2009.html
12K Download

Attachment FOI 08 698 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF REQUEST FOR REVIEW RECEIVED 6th FEBRUARY 2009.html
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Attachment FOI 08 698 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF REQUEST FOR REVIEW RECEIVED 6th FEBRUARY 2009.html
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Dear S Smith

I note that you still require us to review our response to your original
request for information (see attached) and that your new request
(FOI/09/122, also attached) does not supersede or override this.

However, your previous email of 6th February does not clarify on what
grounds you are seeking the review, and you need to confirm this before we
can proceed. Please see my email of 6th February in response to yours.

To reiterate, as the Council supplied you with access to the information
you asked for and within statutory timescales, it is not clear why you
consider we have not complied with Freedom of Information Act 2000
legislation, so as soon as you explain why you are unhappy with our
response and why you believe it to be non-compliant, we can proceed with
our investigations.

Many thanks

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

14 February 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please refer to our email of 7th February 2009,
for the clarification you seek; regarding why an
internal review has been requested on 6th February 2009.

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

16 February 2009


Attachment attachment.html
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Attachment FOI 08 698 RESPONSE TO FOI REQUEST RECEIVED 22nd SEPTEMBER 2008.html
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Dear Mr Smith

I do not believe that your email of 7th February (attached) does clarify
why you are seeking a review of our response to your previous request for
information submitted in September 2008 (attached). Its subject title
indicates that it is a new request for information rather than
clarification as to why you want a review, so taking into account that
over two months has elapsed since we provided the response to your
original request, your 7th February email has been treated as a new
request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please note that we are not refusing to conduct an internal review, we
simply need you to clarify which one of the following grounds for
complaint applies.

* failure to provide the information you asked for;
* failure to tell you whether or not we held information you requested;
* failure to respond to your request within time limits (normally 20
working days);
* failure to give you proper advice and help;
* failure to give information in the form in which you requested it;
* failure to properly explain the reasons for refusing the request;
* failure to correctly apply an exemption under the Act
* overcharging you for providing information.

I have enclosed a link to the Information Commissioner's website to
their guidance for the public on how and when to complain.
[1]http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l....
As soon as you explain why you are unhappy with our original response
and why you believe it to be non-compliant with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, we can then investigate. Alternatively, if you are
unable to do this, you can escalate your complaint direct to the
Information Commissioner.
[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's
Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[3]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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Link to this

Kent County Council

19 February 2009

Dear S Smith

Thank you for your request for information. You asked for details of the
legislation, which supports the KCC statement made KCC's response to your
previous request for information.

The County Council adopted a revised Code of Conduct for Members on 21
June 2007, on the basis of the national model Code of Conduct contained in
the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) Order 2007, which was issued
by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in exercise
of powers conferred by Sections 50 (1) and (4), 81 (2) and (3), and 105
(2), (3) and (4) of the Local Government Act 2000. The specific part of
the Code of Conduct that deals with the disclosure of charitable bodies is
paragraph 8 (1) (a) (ii) (bb) (pages 124 and 125 of the Constitution).
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/publications/coun...

As I have advised you before, the register of interests for each of the 84
county councillors (this includes any employment or business) is already
accessible to you via our
website. [2]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ... and
is therefore exempt under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act
2000, information accessible by other means.

I hope this satisfies your request. If you have a query with the
information provided, please contact me on 01622 221652. However, if you
are unhappy with this response, and believe KCC has not complied with
legislation, please ask for a review by following our complaints process;
details can be found at this link
[3]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...
on our website. Please quote reference FOI/09/122.

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[4]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

20 February 2009

Dear Sir or Madam, INTERNAL REVIEW COMPLAINT

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

I am writing to confirm that an internal review of Kent County
Council's handling of my FOI request 'Free Masons / Councillors
Occupations'was requested on the 6th February 2009 with follow-up
clarification sent on
7th February 2009.

Our understanding being that you have 20 days within which to
respond.

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

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

23 February 2009

Dear S Smith

Please see my email dated 16th February which explains why we treated your
7th February email as a new request for information (our reference is
FOI/09/122) and why we are still seeking clarification from you as to why
you want us to review our 17th October response to your original request
for information (reference FOI/08/698). As soon as you confirm why you
believe our reply sent out did not comply with the Freedom of Information
Act 2000, we will instigate an internal investigation. If you are not
happy with this stance and consider that Kent County Council is not
dealing with any of your communications in accordance with legislation,
you should escalate your complaint to the Information Commissioner
[1]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

A reply to your 7th February request for information was sent to you on
19th February, well within the 20-working day statutory timescales.

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[2]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

3 March 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

It was interesting to observe, from your
reply, that further elected members of
Kent County Council are too ashamed of their membership of the Free
Mason organisation to admit their association.

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

From: S Smith (Account suspended)

7 March 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please quote the clause directly within the
code of conduct that applies to this case?

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

14 April 2009


Attachment Extract from Blue Book Kent Code.pdf
2.2M Download View as HTML


Dear S Smith

Thank you for your request for information. Please accept my apologies for
the delay in replying to you. I appreciate we have not complied with
statutory timescales on this occasion.

In answer to points 2 & 4 of your original email, Kent County Council's
Code of Conduct requests that staff "should should declare to an
appropriate senior manager, membership of any organisation, lodge,
chapter, society, trust or regular gathering or meeting which is not open
to members of the public who are not members of that lodge, chapter,
society or trust or requires secrecy about its rules, membership or
conduct". A failure to disclose personal interests of this kind could
result in disciplinary sanctions.

Personnel do not hold central records of KCC all employees' declarations
of personal interests. However, the senior managers register of interests
(i.e. director level and above) is held centrally, is updated annually and
none of the officers included on it has declared that they are members of
any lodge. Information about all other officers' membership of the
Freemasons would be retained by the individual's line manager. KCC has 240
senior managers and over 2600 employees with supervisory responsibilities
for subordinate staff, and to contact each one to ascertain if any of
their staff have declared such membership and then extrapolate and collate
the findings across the Authority would certainly exceed the appropriate
limit of £450 (equivalent to 18 hours at £25 per hour). Therefore under
section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we are not obliged to
comply with elements 1 & 3 of your request.

I hope this satisfies your request. If you have a query with the
information provided, please contact me on 01622 221652. However, if you
are unhappy with this response, and believe KCC has not complied with
legislation, please ask for a review by following our complaints process;
details can be found at this link
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...
on our website. Please quote reference FOI/09/210.

If you still remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you can
appeal to the Information Commissioner, who oversees compliance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Details of what you need to do, should
you wish to pursue this course of action, are available from the
Information Commissioner*s website
[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[3]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

14 April 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Unfortunately your delayed reply still fails to address the orginal
request of 20th September 2008 and clarification sort;7th February
2009;

Regarding how many Kent County Councillors, who are Elected by the
Public, are FreeMasons ?

Clearly,(3rd March 2009) Kent County Council is too ashamed to show
the Public how many Elected Members reside within; which maybe why
your last response refers to staff not Councillors.
Surely you are aware that Councillors/Elected Members are not
staff?

Please answer the questions directly and refrain from smoke and
mirrors, which could be seen by the Public and rightly so, as a
form of deception.

Please also confirm if the Conservative Leader of Kent County
Council Paul Carter is a member of the FreeMasons or not ?

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

15 April 2009


Attachment FOI 08 698 RESPONSE TO FOI REQUEST RECEIVED 22nd SEPTEMBER 2008.html
11K Download


Dear S Smith

Thank you for your email which I received this morning.

I am sorry you are unhappy with my response to your request for
information, specifically use of section 12 of the Freedom of Information
Act - it would exceed the appropriate limit to provide information about
employees who have made a declaration of interest regarding membership of
a lodge or chapter and therefore KCC is not obliged to comply with your
request.

You also complain that in my latest response, I did not provide a list of
elected members who are members of the Freemasons or any other similar
society as it would appear you were expecting me to elaborate on
my response to a previous request for information (copy
attached). Councillors' declarations of interest (this includes the
Leader, Paul Carter) are already in the public domain, and therefore
exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act.
I understand from your subsequent research that only 2 of the 84 county
councillors have actually declared membership of a lodge and what you
should be aware of is that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you a
right of access to recorded information, and that is what KCC has
recorded. Legislation makes no demands on public authorities like KCC, to
create information to satisfy requests.

However, the Director of Law and Governance and our Legal Department will
now investigate your complaint and will review our responses to your two
requests on the subject of Councillors' occupations & Freemasonry on
behalf of the Chief Executive. Their reply will be forthcoming within 28
days from receipt (by 13th May 2009)

Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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Link to this

Kent County Council

8 May 2009


Attachment FOI 09 210 FOI 08 698.pdf
357K Download View as HTML


Dear S Smith,

Re: FOI/08/698 & FOI/09/210 Re: Free Masons and your complaint

I have undertaken a review of your complaint concerning the handling of
your two FOIA requests concerning staff and Councillors declaring
membership of the Free Masons. Please find attached a letter detailing the
outcome of my review. Should you have any queries please do not hesitate
to contact me.

Regards,

Wendy Morse

Solicitor

Commercial & Environmental Group

Legal & Democratic Services

Kent County Council County Hall Maidstone ME14 1XQ

E: [1][email address] T: 01622 694416 F: 01622
694402 W: www.kent.gov.uk/Legal

This communication may contain advice or information, that attracts legal
professional privilege and may be exempt from disclosure under the Data
Protection Act 1998 or the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Accordingly,
do not disclose this communication to a third party without first taking
legal advice from the sender.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

13 May 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for your reply to the internal inquiry.

Can you please explain why staff only "should" be required to
confirm whether or not they are Freemasons
and why Elected Members requirements are different to those of
staff.

With such contradictions the public could not be criticized for
wondering whether or not the true picture is being portrayed.

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

Link to this

Kent County Council

20 May 2009

Dear S Smith,

Thank you for your two further emails below.

As set out in previous responses to your enquiries concerning
declarations of membership of the Free Masons, both Councillors and
members of staff are required to declare membership.

If you have a problem with the way Kent County Council operates then
making FOIA requests is not the correct way to challenge this. Any
complaint should be sent to your Kent County Councillor, or
alternatively you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman if you wish
to allege malpractice.

Unless you have a query concerning the outcome of my review of the
handling of your two FOIAs I am unable to assist further with this
matter. Please be advised that any future correspondence on this same
subject will also be treated as vexatious within the meaning in section
14(1) FOIA and no further information will be provided.

Regards,

Wendy Morse
Solicitor
Commercial & Environmental Group
Legal & Democratic Services
Kent County Council County Hall Maidstone ME14 1XQ

E: [email address] T: 01622 694416 F: 01622 694402
W: www.kent.gov.uk/Legal

This communication may contain advice or information, that attracts
legal professional privilege and may be exempt from disclosure under the
Data Protection Act 1998 or the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Accordingly, do not disclose this communication to a third party without
first taking legal advice from the sender.

show quoted sections

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From: S Smith (Account suspended)

27 May 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

How odd that a FOI simply asking if ALL Elected
Members/Councillor's elected by the Public, have declared whether
or not they belong to a masonic lodge i.e. freemasons can be
treated as vexatious.

Surely it is a simple measure to ask members directly whether or
not they have up-dated their declaration of interest form.

If they wish to keep their membership 'secret' of course there is
very little that can be done and the Public will remain kept in the
dark on such matters.

Yours sincerely,

S Smith

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