We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Graeme Amis please sign in and let everyone know.

Gift & Hospitality Registers

We're waiting for Graeme Amis to read a recent response and update the status.

Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Please provide any and all gift and hospitality registers, registers of interest or similar such documents that HS2 holds.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Five working days have now elapsed since I submitted this simple request. I have still not even received acknowledgement of receipt of this request. If HS2 were complying with the ICO guidance to respond promptly, I would have expected to have received my response by now.

The ICO guidance is quite clear that “Authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response” and in normal circumstances, FOI requests should be addressed more promptly.

The ICO guidance may be found here: https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

A very brief and clear explanation of HS2 Ltd's responsibilities in complying with the FOI act prepared by HS2 lawyers Pinsent Masons may be found here: https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/ne...

As the guidance states:

"The obligation to respond promptly means that an authority should comply with a request as soon as is reasonably practicable," the ICO said in its new guidance. "Whilst this is linked to the obligation to respond within 20 working days, it should be treated as a separate requirement...An authority will therefore need to both respond promptly and within 20 working days in order to comply with [the FOI Act]. Authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response. It also follows that an authority which provides its response close to, or on, the final day of the 20 working day limit OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO BOTH ACCOUNT FOR, AND JUSTIFY, THE LENGTH OF TIME TAKEN TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUEST [our emphasis]," it added."

With this in mind, please provide the information I have requested as soon as is reasonably practical. Please also 'account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply' with this request, if you expect it will take more than a few days to give me a substantive reply.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited



Thank you for your email to the HS2 Helpdesk.

 

In keeping with our community engagement commitments we will respond to
enquiries quickly and efficiently, with an acknowledgement within 2
working days, and responding within 20 working days if we are unable to
answer the query straight away.

 

If your enquiry is urgent and requires immediate attention please contact
the 24 hour HS2 Helpdesk directly on our freephone number 08081 434 434.

 

There is a range of information available about HS2 online at
[1]https://www.hs2.org.uk/

If you would like information about what is happening in relation to HS2
in your area you may also like to browse the following link
[2]https://www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/what...

 

We look forward to assisting you as soon as we can.

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
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Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

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Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Since I have had a number of FOIs go 'missing', please could you acknowledge receipt of my FOI dated 20 September requesting Gift & Hospitality registers and my follow-up email dated 27th September 2019.

Please let me know the justification for not responding promptly (as per ICO guidance) and let me know when I can expect a substantive reply.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

 

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd, a copy of which I include below. We
are considering your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
aim to reply as soon as possible and no later than 25 October

 

Your reference number for the request is FOI-19-3413.

 

Kind regards,

Alistair.

                

Best wishes

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 020 7944 4575 | [mobile number]| [1][email address] |
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

show quoted sections

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

 

Please accept my apologies for the mistake in my previous email; the
response date for this request is no later 18 October, and not 25 October.

 

Kind regards

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

Dear Graeme Amis

 

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd, a copy of which I include below. We
are considering your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
aim to reply as soon as possible and no later than 25 October

 

Your reference number for the request is FOI-19-3413.

 

Kind regards,

Alistair.

                

Best wishes

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [6][email address]|
[7]Facebook | [8]Twitter | [9]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [10]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

show quoted sections

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Graeme Amis

 

Please find attached the response to your recent Freedom of Information
request (below).

 

Kind regards,

 

Alistair.

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

From: Graeme Amis;
Received: Fri Sep 27 2019 12:02:59 GMT+0100 (British Summer Time)
To: HS2 Enquiries;
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - Gift & Hospitality Registers

Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Five working days have now elapsed since I submitted this simple request.
I have still not even received acknowledgement of receipt of this
request.  If HS2 were complying with the ICO guidance to respond promptly,
I would have expected to have received my response by now.

The ICO guidance is quite clear that “Authorities should regard the 20
working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible
date on which they may issue a response” and in normal circumstances, FOI
requests should be addressed more promptly.

The ICO guidance may be found here:
[6]https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

A very brief and clear explanation of HS2 Ltd's responsibilities in
complying with the FOI act prepared by HS2 lawyers Pinsent Masons may be
found here:
[7]https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/ne...

As the guidance states:

"The obligation to respond promptly means that an authority should comply
with a request as soon as is reasonably practicable," the ICO said in its
new guidance. "Whilst this is linked to the obligation to respond within
20 working days, it should be treated as a separate requirement...An
authority will therefore need to both respond promptly and within 20
working days in order to comply with [the FOI Act]. Authorities should
regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the
latest possible date on which they may issue a response. It also follows
that an authority which provides its response close to, or on, the final
day of the 20 working day limit OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO BOTH ACCOUNT FOR, AND
JUSTIFY, THE LENGTH OF TIME TAKEN TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUEST [our
emphasis]," it added."

With this in mind, please provide the information I have requested as soon
as is reasonably practical. Please also 'account for, and justify, the
length of time taken to comply' with this request, if you expect it will
take more than a few days to give me a substantive reply.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[8][FOI #606215 email]

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

Dear Alistair,

Thank you for this response. I would ideally like to see these documents in their original form.

I understand that you feel it would be overly burdensome to look up every individual's name in these documents and examine whether they should be redacted or not. A simple solution to this problem would be to provide me with these documents with EVERY individual's name redacted, thus making the task quick and easy to expedite whilst preserving data protection.

So to simplify my request:

1. Please provide the Gift & Hospitality Register, AND the Conflicts of Interest Register (or whatever name these documents go by), in the original format if possible, with ALL individuals' names redacted to preserve data protection.

2. Please provide the titles of any other documents which you think are relevant to this request.

Many thanks,

Graeme.

HS2 FOI, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

Thank you for your email of 21 October.

In my previous correspondence, I suggested that if you wanted us to look
at the Conflicts of Interest Register, then once you had let us know, we
would then let you know what could be provided. In respect to this and
following your correspondence, we have found that whilst all staff are
required to declare any conflicts of interest upon joining HS2 Ltd, we do
not hold a central register. Such conflict is recorded on the relevant
individual employee record. Given the nature of how we store this
information, a search would constitute over 18 hours of work.

Returning to our original explanation to you, it is necessary to
re-iterate that personal data needs to be removed in order to allow
release of the Gifts and Hospitality registers within the cost limit as
set by the Act. We are unable to easily remove one column (of names) from
the Gifts and Hospitality registers to allow the data to be released, as
personal data is found within more than just one column.

There are 28 columns in the Hospitality register, of which 9 have at least
some personal data; consequently, each of the near 1200 lines of data
within those 9 columns would need to be interrogated, and all such data
removed.

Therefore, within the time and cost limit, we can provide the following
information;

Gifts and Hospitality

·         Recipient Name (subject to Personal Data exemptions)

·         The date on which the hospitality/gift was offered

·         Organisation offering the hospitality/gift

·         Type of hospitality/nature of gift offered

·         Value of the hospitality/gift

·         Whether the hospitality/gift was accepted or declined

Alternatively, we could provide the Gifts and Hospitality registers to you
minus all columns within which personal data is stored.

To enable us to proceed with your request, I would be grateful if you
could confirm which of the alternatives you would wish us to provide.

After receiving your reply, your request will be considered, and you will
receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, as
defined by the Act, subject to the application of any statutory
exemptions. If you chose not to respond, then your request will remain
unanswered.

Right to Review

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request or with the
decisions made in relation to your request, you may complain in writing to
HS2 Ltd at the address below.  Please also see attached details of HS2
Ltd’s complaints procedure and your right to complain to the Information
Commissioner.

Please remember to quote reference number FOI-19-3413 in any future
communication relating to this request.

Yours sincerely

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

Dear Alistair,

Thank you for this response. I would ideally like to see these documents
in their original form.

I understand that you feel it would be overly burdensome to look up every
individual's name in these documents and examine whether they should be
redacted or not. A simple solution to this problem would be to provide me
with these documents with EVERY individual's name redacted, thus making
the task quick and easy to expedite whilst preserving data protection.

So to simplify my request:

1. Please provide the Gift & Hospitality Register, AND the Conflicts of
Interest Register (or whatever name these documents go by), in the
original format if possible, with ALL individuals' names redacted to
preserve data protection.

2. Please provide the titles of any other documents which you think are
relevant to this request.

Many thanks,

Graeme.

 

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.facebook.com/HS2ltd
3. http://www.twitter.com/hs2ltd
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/high-spe...
5. http://www.gov.uk/hs2

Dear HS2 FOI,

Thank you for your response dated 20th November. Further to that reply, please provide:

1. "the Gifts and Hospitality registers to you minus all columns within which personal data is stored" - but also include the titles of each column you delete
2. As per my message of 21st October, "the titles of any other documents which you think are relevant to this request" - this request doesn't seem to have been answered by your reply of 20th November
3. Please confirm that HS2 Ltd does not hold a Conflicts of Interest Register, as it was my understanding that the HS2 Conflicts of Interest panel held one.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

 

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd, a copy of which I include below. We
are considering your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
aim to reply as soon as possible and no later than 10 January.

 

Your reference number for the request is FOI-19-3487.

 

Kind regards,

 

Alistair.

                

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

Dear HS2 FOI,

 

Thank you for your response dated 20th November. Further to that reply,
please provide:

 

1. "the Gifts and Hospitality registers to you minus all columns within
which personal data is stored" - but also include the titles of each
column you delete 2. As per my message of 21st October, "the titles of any
other documents which you think are relevant to this request" - this
request doesn't seem to have been answered by your reply of 20th November
3. Please confirm that HS2 Ltd does not hold a Conflicts of Interest
Register, as it was my understanding that the HS2 Conflicts of Interest
panel held one.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Graeme Amis

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.facebook.com/HS2ltd
3. http://www.twitter.com/hs2ltd
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/high-spe...
5. http://www.gov.uk/hs2

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Graeme Amis

Please find attached the response to your recent Freedom of Information
request (below).

Kind regards,

Alistair.

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

Dear HS2 FOI,

 

Thank you for your response dated 20th November. Further to that reply,
please provide:

 

1. "the Gifts and Hospitality registers to you minus all columns within
which personal data is stored" - but also include the titles of each
column you delete 2. As per my message of 21st October, "the titles of any
other documents which you think are relevant to this request" - this
request doesn't seem to have been answered by your reply of 20th November
3. Please confirm that HS2 Ltd does not hold a Conflicts of Interest
Register, as it was my understanding that the HS2 Conflicts of Interest
panel held one.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Graeme Amis

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.facebook.com/HS2ltd
3. http://www.twitter.com/hs2ltd
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/high-spe...
5. http://www.gov.uk/hs2

Dear Alastair,

What a strange volte-face! However, thank you for this response.

In order to expedite my request, please provide:
1. The Gifts Register in its entirety, as offered in your response.
2. The titles of any other documents you think might be relevant to my request, please do not ignore this part of the request.
3. The Hospitality Register and the Conflicts of Interest Register minus all columns within which personal date is interwoven. I would like you to reconsider the application of Section 31 but if it is the only way to expedite my request, then please provide these registers minus all columns within which the names of 'Small and Micro Companies' is interwoven.

If you insist on redacting the columns within which the names of 'Small and Micro Companies' is interwoven, then please provide, as part of this request, a clear explanation of why Section 31 applies, or may apply.

Finally, I would like to ask for an internal review of this request. I would like the review to examine how and why the Conflicts of Interest Register was not identified, or was somehow lost to this process. I would also like the review to examine whether Section 31 is being appropriately applied as an exemption here. It seems incredibly unlikely that merely publishing the names of small companies as they appear in these registers, would in itself prompt criminal action against these companies or their staff. This seems even more unlikely if the names of said companies are in any case published elsewhere (e.g. the contract opportunities tables). The Conflicts of Interest Register is a transparency document, not a list of accusations or offences. Obfuscating the names of companies working with HS2 on this basis would set a strange and dangerous precedent.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited



Thank you for your email to the HS2 Helpdesk.

In keeping with our community engagement commitments we aim to respond to
enquiries quickly and efficiently, with an acknowledgement within 2
working days, and a full response within 20 working days if and when we
are unable to answer your query straight away.

 

If your enquiry is urgent and requires immediate attention please contact
the 24 hour HS2 Helpdesk directly on our freephone number 08081 434 434.

 

In the interim if you would like more information on the work of HS2,
and you have access to the internet, please head online to
[1]www.hs2.org.uk

     

For information about what is happening in relation to HS2 in your area
you may also like to browse the following link
[2]www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/whats-happening-near-you  Via this link you
can also sign up to receive regular updates on HS2 works local to you.

 

Again, thank you for your email and we look forward to assisting you as
soon as we can.

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.hs2.org.uk/
2. http://www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/whats...

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Mr Amis

Thank you for your email of 06 March which I include below.

It might be useful to reiterate that there are two options available to
you as a requestor.

o You have the option to accept our offer – which would mean that we
would provide the data as suggested.
o You also have the option to reject our offer and request a review –
which would mean that we would review the way in which we handled our
original response to you.

However, I must explain that it is not possible to request both options.

ICO guidance is that any written correspondence where the applicant says
they are unhappy with a public authority’s response to an information
request should be treated as a complaint.

Therefore, we have treated your correspondence as a request for a review.

The review will be conducted in accordance with HS2 Ltd’s review
procedure. Every effort will be made to have a response to you within 20
working days. However, if it becomes clear that the review will not be
completed by this date you will be advised.

Your reference number for the review request is FOI-20-3487-R.

You are of course free to withdraw your request for a review, and inform
us in writing that the offer we have made would satisfy your request.

Yours sincerely

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

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

show quoted sections

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Mr Amis

FOI-20-3487-R – internal review response

I am writing in response to your concerns about HS2 Ltd’s handling of your
request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (our
reference: FOI-20-3487).

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to complete this review within the
20 day guideline, and I would like to apologise for this.

I can assure you that we are prioritising this case and hope to get the
full response to you within the next few weeks.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Hobbs

Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Mr Amis

Please accept my apologies for the typing error in the subject line of the
previous email. The correct reference number for this review is
FOI-20-3487-R.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Hobbs

Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

 

From: HS2Enquiries
Sent: 03 April 2020 12:10
To: [FOI #606215 email]
Subject: FOI-20-3587-R - Internal review of Freedom of Information request

 

Dear Mr Amis

FOI-20-3487-R – internal review response

I am writing in response to your concerns about HS2 Ltd’s handling of your
request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (our
reference: FOI-20-3487).

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to complete this review within the
20 day guideline, and I would like to apologise for this.

I can assure you that we are prioritising this case and hope to get the
full response to you within the next few weeks.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Hobbs

Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

Dear HS2Enquiries,

Dear HS2 Ltd,

Please pass this information to whoever is conducting the internal review. Detailed in my previous correspondence are some of the key issues which I think the internal review needs to cover. However there are a large number of issues connected with the processing of this request and HS2 Ltd do not seem to be applying the FOI legislation correctly.

It appears to be the default position of HS2 Ltd to automatically redact the names of anyone except senior management, in their FOI replies.

In this case, I have requested the Gifts and Hospitality Register and the Conflicts of Interest Register, two key transparency documents which lose all meaning if names of individuals and companies are redacted. Transparency is described as a core principle of HS2 in HS2 Ltd’s corporate literature. If due process has been followed in compiling these registers, there seems no reason not to release this information.

Information is not automatically exempt just because it is the personal data of someone else. Section 40 of FOIA provides an exemption from the right to information if it is personal data as defined in the DPA. This states that you should not disclose the personal data of someone else ONLY if one or more of these conditions are met:

1. disclosure would contravene the data protection principles; or
2. disclosure would contravene an objection to processing; or
3. the data is exempt from the right of subject access.

In the first instance, you should refer in all cases to the principles listed in Article 5 of the GDPR. There are seven data protection principles. However, it is only principle (a) that is likely to be relevant when you consider disclosure, that “personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject”. In the case of an FOI request, the personal data is processed when it is disclosed in response to the request. This means that the data can only be disclosed if it would be lawful, fair and transparent. It is important to note that, in particular, principle (b) is not relevant to disclosure under FOIA. This states that data should be processed for “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes” and should not be further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes. However disclosure under FOIA is not in itself incompatible with the business purposes of a public authority. An FOI disclosure that complies with the GDPR and the DPA in other respects is therefore not likely to contravene principle (b).

In the second instance, information is exempt if disclosure would contravene an objection made under Article 21 of the GDPR. However, there is no obligation for you to proactively contact individuals to give them the opportunity to object, once an FOI request is received. If an individual objects to the processing of their personal data at the time of an FOI request, this will not apply to the consideration of that request or potential disclosure.

The third condition provides an exemption for personal data if the requested data is exempt from disclosure under a subject access request. Therefore, if you would not give a copy of the requested data under the GDPR or the DPA to the individual whose personal data it is, you should also not give the data to a third party making an FOI request. In circumstances where the personal data would be exempt from the subject access right, it is likely that disclosure would also contravene principle (a) and that the first condition also applies. If you are not invoking the first condition then we would not expect this condition be invoked either.

I would like the internal review to consider whether this personal information has been collected in a lawfully, fairly and transparent manner, why it should not therefore be released, what possible reason there might be to conceal this data, further, I would expect an explanation of why and how HS2 Ltd is applying the GDPR principles.

It’s been over six months since I first made this relatively simple request and HS2 Ltd appear to be making a concerted effort to obstruct or delay the release of the requested information. I expect the review to investigate why.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited





Thank you for your email to the HS2 Helpdesk.

Please note that following UK Government advice for COVID-19, the HS2 Ltd
Helpdesk is working remotely. Over this period it may take us a little
longer to respond to acknowledge and respond to your email. We appreciate
your patience during this difficult time.

Under normal circumstances we aim to respond to enquiries quickly and
efficiently, with an acknowledgement being issued within 2 working days of
being received, and a full response being issued within 20 working days
(when we are unable to answer your query straight away).

 

If your enquiry is urgent and requires immediate attention please contact
the 24 hour HS2 Helpdesk directly on our freephone number 08081 434 434.

 

In the interim if you would like more information on the work of HS2,
and you have access to the internet, please head online to
[1]www.hs2.org.uk

     

For information about what is happening in relation to HS2 in your area
you may also like to browse the following link
[2]www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/whats-happening-near-you  Via this link you
can also sign up to receive regular updates on HS2 works local to you.

 

Again, thank you for your email and we look forward to assisting you as
soon as we can.

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HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis,

 

Thank you for your email of 16 April.

 

We are currently reviewing the response to your FOI request (our ref.
3487) and as we indicated on 03 April, unfortunately we needed more time
to consider your review.

 

I would like to apologise for this. I can assure you that we are
prioritising this case and hope to get the full response to you soon, and
at least by 05 May.

 

Kind regards.

 

Alistair.

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

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

show quoted sections

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Graeme Amis

With my apologies for the delay in responding, please find attached our
response to your request for an internal review (as below), reference
FOI-20-3487-R

Kind regards,

Alistair.

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

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

show quoted sections

Dear Nicole,

Thank you for this response.

I must report with dismay that this reads nothing like a genuine Internal Review but rather more like the manoeuvrings of a legal team attempting to cover up the illegal behaviour of an HS2 Ltd employee or employees.

If I may outline my concerns:

INTERNAL REVIEW - I requested an Internal Review partly because I felt that HS2 Ltd had failed to respond adequately to my request for information (and were misapplying exemptions in order to prevent the release of the information).

Partly because I had received contradictory and misleading information. No real attempt at an Internal Review seems to have been conducted however, and the problem has been compounded by the Review supplying me with further misleading and contradictory information.

You state that "I have investigated how and why the Conflicts of Interest Register was not identified during the original search...which was caused by a misunderstanding in the nomenclature of your request.” This is patently not true.

Alastair Hobbs clearly understood my original request (of the 20th September 2019) as he asked me in response (18th October 2019) if I would like HS2 to examine the ‘Conflicts of Interest Register’. I agreed that I would like to see the 'Conflicts of Interest Register’ again using those exact words (21st October 2019).

What is clear is that there was no confusion over the ’nomenclature’ of my request. What is also clear is that the internal reviewer did not actually investigate.

The review SHOULD have investigated why the COI register was “somehow lost to the process”, as, having been told that there WAS a ‘Conflicts of Interest Register’ I was subsequently told there was not.

Alastair Hobbs, in his message of 20th November 2019 stated that "we have found that whilst all staff are required to declare any conflicts of interest upon joining HS2 Ltd, we do not hold a central register".

However, there is such a register. In Mr Hobbs’ subsequent message of 10th January 2020 he said 'I can confirm that, as opposed to my statement in the previous email of 20 November, HS2 Ltd does have a central Conflicts of Interest Register’.

It is important to note that this confirmation was only provided because I persevered and identified the body within HS2 that held the Register (namely the Conflicts of Interest panel, which is surely the first place one would look).

The only plausible explanation is [personal information redacted] a coverup.

From denying its very existence to wildly applying exemptions, HS2 Ltd appear to have been making every attempt to block or delay the release of the Conflicts of Interest Register. It is difficult to imagine how I might have worded or reworded my request in order to receive the requested information in a form which was not redacted to the extent it would carry no meaning.

SECTION 14(1) OF THE ACT - You state that this information is not organised in such a way as to allow prompt extraction. I’m led to believe that this information is in spreadsheet form, a format designed for prompt and easy extraction of information.

More importantly however, as you state, 'For the application of Section 14(1) a public authority must have real concerns about potentially exempt material’.

I do not believe HS2 Ltd has real, valid concerns. It would seem it simply doesn’t want to release the information.

APPLICABILITY OF S40(2) OF THE ACT - As you state, "HS2 Ltd is not required to disclose ‘personal information’ (where such disclosure would not be lawful or fair)”. I see no reason why disclosure of this information would not be lawful or fair and you have given no explanation or justification of why releasing this information would not be lawful or fair. Therefore I conclude that exemption 40(2) has NOT been validly engaged.

Furthermore, you have taken my email of 6th March 2020 as a tacit agreement that I do not require this information. This is despite my exhaustive email of 16th April 2020, in which I explain that I do require the personal information, that I expect an explanation of why and how HS2 Ltd is applying the GDPR principles and do not think the exemption has been validly engaged.

This is another example of a flawed internal review process where information is being cherry-picked to defend HS2’s position rather than attempting to aid the requester.

APPLICABILITY OF S31(1) OF THE ACT - Your position seems to be that "If the names of those companies and organisations that HS2 staff and Board members were associated with were to be made public, there is a reasonable risk that these companies/organisations could be targeted by such protest groups.” This seems to be more of an irrational fear than a reasonable risk. If it were a reasonable risk, then HS2 would not publish the names of such companies on their website (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...).

There are myriad examples of companies of all sizes working with HS2, accessible via a simple Google search. Numerous companies working with HS2 have issued their own press releases, with or without the support of the HS2 PR team. It seems unlikely companies would do this if there were ‘a reasonable risk’ of them being targeted.

HS2 protests appear to have almost exclusively focused on large-scale public demonstrations against the Government, or much more commonly, site-specific protests where works are very clearly and obviously taking place. There is no evidence of small companies being targeted simply because they work with HS2. These protesters are chaining themselves to trees or tying ribbons to them, not breaking into the offices of small local companies.

Further, the ICO guidance on the applicability of this exemption tends to apply to specific detail that might enable criminal activity, for example, the pattern of drug seizures in UK ports; the police protocols for deployment of a firearms team; or the details of forensic evidence in relation to a double murder. With numerous examples of companies of all sizes working with HS2 in the public domain, it seems unlikely that releasing the names of other companies alone, would prompt action against these companies. It would certainly not provide any specific information which would help facilitate crime (eg security protocols).

In any case, the remote possibility of a crime being committed against a company purely because it is named as a result of this request, must be balanced against the public interest test.

THE PUBLIC INTEREST TEST - There is a clear public interest in transparency. As the DfT stated as recently as May 2020, “The current Secretary fo State has been clear that this project must go forward with a new approach to Parliamentary reporting, with clear transparency, strengthened accountability to Ministers, and tight control of costs”.

The Gifts and Hospitality and Conflicts of Interest Registers are key transparency documents, which lose all meaning if the names of the individuals and companies concerned are redacted. More crucially, these documents have a useful function in helping prevent and helping identify criminal activity such as bribery and fraud. HS2 Ltd has been damaged by conflicts of interest scandals in the past and it would seem clearly in the public interest to be transparent about these risks, and thus avoid such situations developing in the future. To attempt to conceal this information may imply sinister motives.

OTHER ISSUES WITH THE REVIEW - There are two other issues which the review may no attempt to address. My original request, asked for "any and all gift and hospitality registers, registers of interest or SIMILAR SUCH DOCUMENTS that HS2 holds”. Despite repeated requests for the names of any other documents or registers that might be relevant, Mr Hobbs made no attempt to answer this part of the request. Furthermore, this part of the request was simply ignored by the Internal Review.

The second issue is one of timing. HS2 Ltd have seemed to drag out the process of answering this request, for as long as possible. HS2 Ltd have constantly answered right at the end, or even after, the long-stop deadline, but at no stage have made any attempt to explain the reason for these continual delays. The initial request was made on 20th September 2019. The guidance states that authorities “ought to be able to both account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply with the request” and at no point have I received this justification.

NEXT STEPS - I feel that HS2 Ltd have failed to respond adequately to my request for information, and moreover have deliberately attempted to hide the requested information to prevent it being released. Unfortunately I see no other avenue except to escalate my complaint to the ICO. I do not think the exemptions are being correctly applied and I believe that any public interest test clearly favours disclosure. Therefore I would welcome a ruling on this matter from the ICO.

To be clear, I would like to request both the Conflicts of Interest Register and the Gifts and Hospitality Register in an unredacted form as I do not believe these exemptions are being correctly applied.

Further, as it is a criminal offence under the Act to “deliberately destroy, hide or alter requested information to prevent it being released”, I would like the ICO to ascertain whether they think a crime has been committed.

Since this is a crime with which both individuals and companies can be charged, I would like the Criminal Investigation Team at the ICO to investigate whether a prosecution of an individual(s), HS2 Ltd or both is warranted under Section 77 of the Act.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Mr Amis

 

I have read your email and I have significant concerns regarding the
spurious and unsubstantiated allegations that you have published.  I have
reported these to the What Do They Know team.

 

As we outlined in our response it is the responsibility of the Information
Commissioner’s Office to review any concerns you have.  That is the
appropriate route for you to raise these issues and to have them examined
fairly.

 

We completely reject any allegations of wrong-doing on behalf of any
member of HS2 Ltd and remind you of your obligations under both the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Freedom of Information
Act when placing information into the public domain and making requests
for information.

 

Thank you

 

Carl Bird

 

Carl Bird | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Manager | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snow Hill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
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may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
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