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Information about your dealings with Stonewall #DontSubmitToStonewall

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Dear City of London Corporation,

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Please provide any information that you hold answering to any of the following descriptions:

1. Any application you made in 2019 or 2020 to be a “Stonewall Diversity Champion” or to be included on Stonewall’s “Workplace Equality Index,” including any attachments or appendices to those applications. Please redact personal details if necessary.

2. Any feedback you received in 2019 or 2020 from Stonewall in relation to either application or programme.

3. Any other communication you have received from Stonewall in 2019 or 2020 unless privileged or otherwise exempt from disclosure (but if you claim privilege or exemption in relation to any material, please say in broad terms what the material is and the basis on which you claim to be entitled to withhold it).

4. Full details of any equality impact assessment you carried out connected with any of these applications (including any equality impact assessment carried out prior to an earlier application of the same kind, if no further assessment was done).

5. Details of the total amount of money you paid to Stonewall (i) in 2019; (ii) in 2020, whether or not as payment for goods or services.

6. Whether you intend to continue your membership of any Stonewall scheme in the future, and if so which.

Yours faithfully,

Tatiana Suarez

COL-EB-InformationOfficer, City of London Corporation

Dear Tatiana Suarez,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

The City of London (CoL) acknowledges receipt of your request for information of 18 February 2021.

Public authorities are required to respond to requests within the statutory timescale of 20 working days beginning from the first working day after they receive a request. The Act does not always require public authorities to disclose the information which they hold.

The FOIA applies to the CoL as a local authority, police authority and port health authority. The CoL is the local and police authority for the "Square Mile", ie the historic City of London, and not for London as a whole. Please see the following page containing a link to a map (City of London - Interactive Mapping), which shows the local authority area covered by the CoL:
https://www.mapping.cityoflondon.gov.uk/...

The CoL does have some functions, including Port Health Authority functions, which extend beyond the City boundary. For further information please see: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Information Officer
Comptroller & City Solicitor's Department
City of London
Tel: 020-7332 1243
www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

show quoted sections

COL - Trent HR Team, City of London Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Tatiana Suarez,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

 

Following your request of 18 February 2021, and our acknowledgement on the
same day, the City of London (CoL) responds as follows. 

 

 1. Any application you made in 2019 or 2020 to be a “Stonewall Diversity
Champion” or to be included on Stonewall’s “Workplace Equality Index,”
including any attachments or appendices to those applications. Please
redact personal details if necessary.

 

The CoL can confirm that we did make a “workplace Equality index”
submission through the “Stonewall Diversity champion” programme. The
supporting documentation is attached 

 

 2. Any feedback you received in 2019 or 2020 from Stonewall in relation
to either application or programme.

 

In accordance with section 1(1(a) of the FOIA The CoL confirms that it
 did receive feedback from Stonewall. However, we have applied the FOIA
section 41 exemption – Information provided in Confidence and the section
43(2) – Commercial Interests- including that of the Authority. Please see
our exemption statements towards the end of this response.

 

3. Any other communication you have received from Stonewall in 2019 or
2020 unless privileged or otherwise exempt from disclosure (but if you
claim privilege or exemption in relation to any material, please say in
broad terms what the material is and the basis on which you claim to be
entitled to withhold it).        

 

The CoL received 3957 communications regarding Stonewall between 2019 and
2020. Please see FOIA section 12 exception – Appropriate Limit statement
below

 

4.Full details of any equality impact assessment you carried out connected
with any of these applications (including any equality impact assessment
carried out prior to an earlier application of the same kind, if no
further assessment was done).

 

The CoL can confirm that no further assessment was completed. This
programme will have a positive impact on the Corporation’s ability to
better understand these underrepresented groups and create a more diverse
and inclusive environment for staff and service users.

 

5. Details of the total amount of money you paid to Stonewall (i) in 2019;
(ii) in 2020, whether or not as payment for goods or services.

 

The CoL can confirm that it has paid a total have paid a total of £5000 to
Stonewall since joining the programme  on 25 March 2019

 

6. Whether you intend to continue your membership of any Stonewall scheme
in the future, and if so which.

 

Yes, we will be continuing our Stonewall Diversity Champions membership,
and hope to make a Workplace Equality Index submission later this year.

 

 

This response acts a refusal notice in accordance with section 17 of the
FOIA. The request is partly refused under section 12 of the FOIA.

 

 

FOI Section 12 – Requests where the cost of appropriate compliance exceeds
the appropriate limit.

 

In accordance with section 1(1)(a) of the FOIA the CoL confirms that it
would hold information relevant to the request. However, it estimates that
to comply with question 3 of the request would exceed the cost/time
allowed for in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate
Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 (made under section 12 of the FOIA),
called (as you may know) the 'appropriate limit', of £450, representing 18
hours work by one person equivalent. Public authorities are not required
to comply with requests free of charge which it is estimated may exceed
the appropriate limit. Where they do comply, they are allowed to charge
the full permitted cost, at the statutory chargeable rate of £25 an hour.
For resource reasons, it is the practice of the CoL not to comply with
requests which exceed the appropriate limit.

 

In accordance with the FOI Fees Regulations an authority is allowed to
take into account, in calculating the estimated compliance time, the time
taken in -

 

"(a) determining whether it holds the information,

(b) locating the information,

(c) retrieving the information, and

(d) extracting the information from a document containing it."

 

In accordance with the Information Tribunal’s Decision Notice ref:
EA/2006/0085, which makes reference to calculation of estimates and
compiling the information, the CoL also considers the description covers
compiling the information, in so far as it can be said that the
information does not technically exist until it is collated.

 

To provide the information that you have requested would require an
individual officer to assess each of the transactions disclosed in the
table. It is therefore difficult sensibly to make an estimate on the basis
of such a request, but a conservative estimate of 2 minutes per
transaction of the 3957 emails , would take in excess of 131 individual
officer hours at a statutory chargeable cost of more than £3,275.

 

We note also the Commissioner's guidance as provided in his Decision
Notice (Ref: FS 50238979) as to what constitutes a significant burden to a
public authority in complying with a request, namely where "significant
involvement and coordination of staff across the public authority" would
be involved, as it clearly would in this instance.

 

Please also note that the Commissioner has stated (FS 50227557) with
regard to FOIA section 12 that the purpose of the section "is to prevent
the possibility of a disproportionate level of search and that it is
reasonable in these circumstances to adjudicate on the basis of a
reasonable estimate of the worst case scenario". Nevertheless, we consider
that our estimate is not a worse case estimate but a conservative one.

 

In addition, the ICO’s guidance states that, as a matter of good practice,
public authorities should avoid providing some information while applying
section 12 to the remainder. The guidance states that it “is accepted that
this is often done with the intention of being helpful but it ultimately
denies the requestor the right to express a preference as to which part or
parts of the request they may wish to receive which can be provided under
the appropriate limit” (‘Requests where the cost of compliance with a
request exceeds the appropriate limit’, 9 Sept 2015). The Information
Tribunal has stated (EA/2006/0085) that: “We ... accept that the cost
limits do not mean that the request must be complied with up to the point
at which the limit has been reached”. This position was endorsed by the
Tribunal in its decision EA/2010/0113.

 

Finally, please note that the Commissioner has stated (FS 50353495) that
“Section 12 of the Act provides an exclusion from complying with a
request. It is not subject to a public interest test”. We note too that
the Commissioner has stated (FS 50279125) that it serves merely as the
costs threshold and does not provide any statement about the value of any
request for information.

 

In accordance with best practice guidance as described in the Information
Commissioner's decision notice ref FS 50203140, after applying the
appropriate limit a public authority is required to provide advice and
assistance, in so far as is possible, as to ways in which an applicant
could reduce his/her request so that it may fall within the appropriate
limit.

 

However, where in general a request is broad in nature and scope, the
Commissioner has upheld the view (FS 50353385; FS 50353499) that it can be
impossible to offer any advice and assistance to enable the applicant to
narrow a request.

 

In this instance, given the amount of information that falls within scope
of the request, we are unable to provide a way in which the request can be
narrowed to fall within the appropriate limit.

 

 

FOIA section 41(1) - Information provided in confidence

 

The CoL applies the FOIA exemption at Section 41(1) (Information provided
in Confidence) to some of the information requested namely the feedback
received from Stonewall.

 

In accordance with the guidance on section 41(1) issued by the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO), available at
-[1]http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

 

We consider that the information requested concerning the feedback
document received by the CoL from Stonewall has the necessary quality of
confidence and is therefore subject to this exemption.

 

The feedback provided to the CoL was not/has not been shared with the
other participating bodies. Although the full final document published by
Stonewall is freely available via the following webpage link:
[2]https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/ca...

 

Additionally, the document contained certain information for the
participating bodies that may provide insight on the financial affairs of
Stonewall. We have also argued this point in our section 43(2) exemptions
statement for the same reasons as outlined here.

 

The exemption at section 41(1) of the FOIA is an absolute exemption and
therefore is not subject to the public interest test.

 

 

 

FOIA section 43(2) - Prejudice to the commercial interests of any person
(including the public authority)

 

The CoL considers that disclosure of some of the requested information,
namely the feedback received from Stonewall in connection either
application or programme would be likely to prejudice the commercial
interests of Stonewall and the CoL.

 

The specific harm which would occur is to the status/position of the
Stonewall Organisation; and to the status position and possibly financial
position of the CoL through the harm this may do to its ability to liaise
and negotiate with new companies and organisations for the benefit of all
parties .

 

It is impossible to imagine that, if this information were to be publicly
disclosed, advantage of the information would not ensue, with consequent
considerable harm to Stonewall, to the reputation of the CoL in dealing
fairly with all organisations, associations and business in whatever field
they excel.

 

The specific harm which would occur is to the reputational and business
position of the Stonewall organisation; and to the reputational and
financial position of the CoL through the harm this may do to the ability
to negotiate freely with wide a range of organisations, businesses and
others.  The CoL finds the likelihood of this occurring would be more
likely than not. 

 

The CoL operates with regard to attracting the best possible services for
all of the aspects that it covers from a wide range of organisations that
it does works for, and is involved with, in a very highly competitive
markets and releasing the requested information would be prejudicial to
securing the best possible discussions and negotiations, and hence best
value for any of the organisations that we work alongside and the wider
members the public.

 

The section 43(2) exemption is subject to the public interest test.  The
public interest arguments in favour of disclosure of such information
would be:

 

(i) The desirability of furthering the understanding of, and participation
in, public debate on procurement.

(ii) Facilitating accountability and transparency of public authorities
for their procurement decisions.

(iii) Facilitating accountability and transparency in the spending of
public money.

 

Nevertheless, in the view of the CoL the application of the public
interest test in relation to the section 43(2) exemption weighs against
disclosure.  Disclosure would have an immediate effect on the
competitiveness of the CoL.

 

Please note also that a public authority has to consider a disclosure
under the FOIA as a disclosure to the world. We note the Information
Tribunal’s statement that “Disclosure under [the] FOIA is effectively an
unlimited disclosure to the public as a whole, without conditions”
(Information Tribunal Appeal Decision EA/2006/0011 & 0013), which was also
referred to by the Information Commissioner (Information Commissioner's
Decision Notice FS 50294078).

 

As stated above, a public authority has to consider a disclosure under the
FOIA as a disclosure to the world.

 

The CoL considers that any public interest in the disclosure of this
information would be limited to organisations and/or business in the same
line of work.

 

On balance, therefore, the CoL considers that the public interest in
non-disclosure in this instance considerably outweighs that in disclosure.

 

We hope that this response is of assistance.

 

If you wish to make a complaint about the way the CoL has managed your
enquiry, please make your complaint in writing to email address:
[3][email address]. For a link to the CoL’s FOI complaints
procedure, please visit the following page:
[4]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Feedback, at the end of which is located the
FOI complaints procedure. If, having used the CoL’s FOI Complaints
Procedure, you are still dissatisfied, you may request the Information
Commissioner to investigate. Please contact: Information Commissioner,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Telephone:
(01625) 545700.  Website: [5]http://www.ico.org.uk/.

 

The FOIA applies to the CoL as a local authority, police authority and
port health authority; and to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
(GSMD), which it manages. Subject to any other statutory provisions
requiring the CoL to disclose information, release of information outside
the scope of the Act is subject to the discretion of the CoL.

 

The CoL holds the copyright in this communication. Its supply does not
give a right to re-use in a way that would infringe that copyright, for
example, by making copies, publishing and issuing copies to the public or
to any other person. Brief extracts of any of the material may be
reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for the purposes of research for
non-commercial purposes, private study, criticism, review and news
reporting, subject to an acknowledgement of the copyright owner.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Corporate HR Unit 

Town Clerk’s Department

City Of London

T: 020 7332 1441

[6]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

 

THIS E-MAIL AND ANY ATTACHED FILES ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND MAY BE LEGALLY
PRIVILEGED. If you are not the addressee, any disclosure, reproduction,
copying, distribution or other dissemination or use of this communication
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error
please notify the sender immediately and then delete this e-mail.
Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any
warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with the
City of London unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement,
letter or facsimile signed by a City of London authorised signatory. Any
part of this e-mail which is purely personal in nature is not authorised
by the City of London. All e-mail through the City of London's gateway is
potentially the subject of monitoring. All liability for errors and
viruses is excluded. Please note that in so far as the City of London
falls within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, it may need to disclose this
e-mail. Website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

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Dear COL - Trent HR Team,

Thank you very much for responding to the Freedom of Information Regarding your dealings with Stonewall in the last couple of years.

I would like to offer some feedback on why you might want to reassess your relationship with Stonewall given some challenges that arise when their recommendations clash with the rights of other protected groups of people.

As explained in the annexes linked, the City of London corporation might be putting itself at risk of reputational damage or even at risk of being sued if it follows Stonewall’s advice uncritically.

For example, under your Gender Identity Policy you state that
https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/assets/A...

9. The Equality and Human Rights Commission advises that the term ‘gender reassignment’ is outdated or misleading, and the preferred umbrella term is ‘trans’. The City Corporation recognises that gender identity is complex and varied (e.g. some people identify as genderfluid), and this will be reflected in our approach.
Please re-evaluate if the above is lawful under UK law or only under Stonewall law.

Please note that Stonewall is under a legal case:

Black lesbian barrister and feminist Allison Bailey won the right to sue Stonewall and her own chambers after Stonewall advised Garden Courts (Allison’s employer and Stonewall Champion) to impose disciplinary measures on Allison Bailey on the grounds of speaking critically of Stonewall’s influence on British life.

https://womansplaceuk.org/2020/06/27/i-a...
https://allisonbailey.co.uk/wp-content/u...

In 2020, a 13-year-old schoolgirl commenced judicial review proceedings against Oxfordshire County Council (a Stonewall Champion), complaining of their Trans Inclusion Toolkit. The Council had consulted with Stonewall and with their own Children and Young Person LGBT+ Inclusion Group on the drafting of the policy but had not consulted more widely. The policy made various erroneous statements about the law. The High Court gave the claimant permission to seek judicial review, and at that point Oxfordshire withdrew its Toolkit – so the matter was never decided in court.

Other challenges to Stonewall-inspired policies are under way, including to the Ministry of Justice’s policy relating to trans women in prison (case heard on March 2nd); to the EHRC’s guidance on single-sex spaces; and to the College of Policing’s policy on the recording of “non-crime hate incidents.”

https://metro.co.uk/2021/03/02/governmen...

Other examples which are not too unrealistic based on services relevant to the City of London might include:

• A trust that provides mental health services operates an “only affirm” policy in relation to patients presenting with gender dysphoria. A young female patient is referred, manifesting extreme distress and insisting that she is really a boy and she wants hormonal and surgical transition as soon as possible. Clinicians affirm her gender identity without exploring the possibility of other causes for her distress and put her on testosterone. Soon after, she undergoes a double mastectomy. The transition fails to relieve her distress. A few years later, she comes to understand that her belief that she was trans was a response to childhood trauma, unexplored at the time. She detransitions and sues the trust for negligence.

• A swimming pool opens its women-only sessions to trans women on the basis of self-identification. A Muslim woman who had been a regular attender gives up swimming and sues for indirect discrimination on grounds of sex and/or religion.

My son also attends a City of London school and I have noticed that they are providing LBGT+ material which is against the Department of Information guidelines and I am almost certain that they too are taking advice from Stonewall. I have written to the school directly and I’m awaiting their reply.

I don’t require any further reply except confirmation that the relevant person has received this message. I ask you to please re-evaluate your commitment to Stonewall in light of the above. Other public bodies have suspended their subscription.

I took some excerpts that I have included in this letter from this page:
https://legalfeminist.org.uk/2021/02/01/...

Yours sincerely,

Tatiana Suarez

COL - Trent HR Team, City of London Corporation

Thank you for your email.
One of the team members will respond to your query as soon as possible. 
We are experiencing very high volume of queries at present so we would
like to thank you in advance for your patience as the team work through
the inbox.
Please note that if you have sent us a HR query, this should be forwarded
to Corporate HR Helpdesk
[email address]<mailto:[email address]>
Kind Regards
City people iTrent Team
THIS E-MAIL AND ANY ATTACHED FILES ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND MAY BE LEGALLY
PRIVILEGED. If you are not the addressee, any disclosure, reproduction,
copying, distribution or other dissemination or use of this communication
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error
please notify the sender immediately and then delete this e-mail.
Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any
warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with the
City of London unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement,
letter or facsimile signed by a City of London authorised signatory. Any
part of this e-mail which is purely personal in nature is not authorised
by the City of London. All e-mail through the City of London's gateway is
potentially the subject of monitoring. All liability for errors and
viruses is excluded. Please note that in so far as the City of London
falls within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, it may need to disclose this
e-mail. Website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

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