Information concerning cancelling of Keep Talking meeting on police advice

Waiting for an internal review by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of their handling of this request.

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

A meeting planned for 9 August 2017 of the Keep Talking group at the Millman Street Centre, operated by Camden Council, was cancelled by the Centre the day before the meeting was to be held. They informed me, “Our decision follows advice received from the Metropolitan Police about public order disturbances related to past events involving your group”. I requested information on this from the Metropolitan Police, and received a reply from Kentish Town Police Station, saying that they had not cancelled the meeting, but they avoided my requests for information on communications between themselves and the Millman Street Centre which could have led to the cancellation of the meeting. They acknowledged that the “Metropolitan Police Service has no record of events organised by the group Keep Talking attracting public disorder”, but they continued with a vague and ambiguous paragraph which would imply to most people that the opposite was true. I asked for clarification, but they ignored my request.

I am now asking the Metropolitan Police to disclose to me, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, any correspondence relating to the planned meeting of Keep Talking at the Millman Street Centre, whether with the Millman Centre, Camden Council, or some third party, such as Antifa, and any other documentation relating to this planned meeting.

Yours faithfully,

Ian Fantom

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Fantom

 

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: PD025

 

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 30 August 2018. letter .  I
note you seek access to the following information:

 

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

 

A  meeting planned for 9 August 2017 of the Keep Talking group at the
Millman Street Centre, operated by Camden Council, was cancelled by the
Centre the day before the meeting was to be held. They informed me, “Our
decision follows advice received from the Metropolitan Police about public
order disturbances related to past events involving your group”. I
requested information on this from the Metropolitan Police, and received a
reply from Kentish Town Police Station, saying that they had not cancelled
the meeting, but they avoided my requests for information on
communications between themselves and the Millman Street Centre which
could have led to the cancellation of the meeting. They acknowledged that
the “Metropolitan Police Service has no record of events organised by the
group Keep Talking attracting public disorder”, but they continued with a
vague and ambiguous paragraph which would imply to most people that the
opposite was true. I asked for clarification, but they ignored my request.

 

I am now asking the Metropolitan Police to disclose to me, under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000, any correspondence relating to the
planned meeting of Keep Talking at the Millman Street Centre, whether with
the Millman Centre, Camden Council, or some third party, such as Antifa,
and any other documentation relating to this planned meeting.

 

 

 

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  You will receive a response within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act. 

 

If you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please contact
us at [email address] or on the phone at 0207 161 3500, quoting the
reference number above. Should your enquiry relate to the logging or
allocations process we will be able to assist you directly and where your
enquiry relates to other matters (such as the status of the request) we
will be able to pass on a message and/or advise you of the relevant
contact details.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Peter Deja

Support Officer

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Information Rights Unit
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[1][email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at [2]www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to
or phone:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 0303 123 1113

 

 

 

 

 

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Case reference: 2018090000658

Dear Mr Fantom,

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding to this
request.

I have today chased the relevant unit and hope to be able to respond to
you within the next few days.

In the meantime, I would like to thank you for your patience in the
matter.

Kind regards,

Suzanne Mason
Information Manager

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Case reference: 2018090000658

Dear Mr Fantom,

Please accept my sincere apologies for the continued delay in responding
to your request.

I am still awaiting information but hope to be able to get back to you
within the next week or so.

Thanking you for your continued patience in the matter.

Kind regards,
Suzanne Mason

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email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
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Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),
Case reference: 2018090000658: 'Information concerning cancelling of Keep Talking meeting on police advice'.

A response from you regarding the above Freedom of Information Request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, the police authority should have responded by now. I have received two acknowledgments from you, but no explanation of the delay. I would like the review to look into the question of why the police were able to intervene at short notice in contacting the Millman Street Community Centre, leading to the cancellation of the Keep Talking meeting, but has not responded within weeks to my request for information concerning that intervention.

Yours faithfully,

Ian Fantom

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Fantom

Freedom of Information Review Reference No: 2018110000115

I write in connection with your request for a review of the handling
and/or decision relating to  2018090000658 which was received by the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on  26/10/2018.  

A review will now be conducted in accordance with the Code of Practice
issued under Section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).
 The reviewing officer will reconsider the original request before
responding to you with their findings.

There is no statutory time limit in relation to the completion of an
Internal Review.  However, the MPS aim to complete Internal Reviews within
20 working days or in exceptional cases, within 40 working days.  This is
based upon guidance published by the Information Commissioner.

If it is not possible to complete the Internal Review within this
timescale you will be informed at the earliest opportunity.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of an Internal Review you may wish to
refer the matter to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

For information on how to make an application to the Information
Commissioner please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively,
write to or phone:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  0303 123 1113

Yours sincerely

Peter Deja
Support Officer - Freedom of Information Triage Team

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email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Fantom

Freedom of Information Review Reference No: 2018110000115

Further to our earlier correspondence dated 02/11/2018, I am now able to
provide a response to your complaint concerning Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) request reference number: 2018090000658.  

Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states:

'Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a public authority must comply with
section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth
working day following the date of receipt.'

In the circumstances of your request, neither the information requested
nor a refusal notice was provided to you within 20 working days.
Therefore, the MPS have not complied with the requirements of section 10
of the Act.

With respect to the delay in providing you with a response, I have made
enquiries with the Information Manager (IM) with responsibility for your
request and they have advised me that a response has been drafted but it
is currently awaiting approval and quality assurance by the business areas
concerned. I have asked the IM to conclude your request as a matter of
urgency.

As a response to your request is currently outstanding, I am unable to
complete a full internal review in relation to your request. However,
should you be dissatisfied with the MPS response to your request, you may
request an internal review in relation to the decision.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of the MPS
for any inconvenience caused by the time taken to respond to your Freedom
of Information Act request.

The progress of your request will continue to be monitored.

Yours sincerely

Yvette Taylor
Information Manager

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Case reference: 2018090000658

Dear Mr Fantom,

Please accept my sincere apologies for the extended delay in responding to
your request.

I am still awaiting information from the business unit.  As soon as I hear
from the unit, I will get back to you.

I apologise once again and I thank you for your patience in the matter.

Kind regards,

Suzanne Mason
Information Manager  

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the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
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legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Case reference: 2018090000658

Dear Mr Fantom,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 2018090000658

Thank you for your request for information which was received by the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 09 September 2018, seeking access to
the following information:

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),
A  meeting planned for 9 August 2017 of the Keep Talking group at the
Millman Street Centre, operated by Camden Council, was cancelled by the
Centre the day before the meeting was to be held. They informed me, "Our
decision follows advice received from the Metropolitan Police about public
order disturbances related to past events involving your group". I
requested information on this from the Metropolitan Police, and received a
reply from Kentish Town Police Station, saying that they had not cancelled
the meeting, but they avoided my requests for information on
communications between themselves and the Millman Street Centre which
could have led to the cancellation of the meeting. They acknowledged that
the "Metropolitan Police Service has no record of events organised by the
group Keep Talking attracting public disorder", but they continued with a
vague and ambiguous paragraph which would imply to most people that the
opposite was true. I asked for clarification, but they ignored my request.
I am now asking the Metropolitan Police to disclose to me, under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000, any correspondence relating to the
planned meeting of Keep Talking at the Millman Street Centre, whether with
the Millman Centre, Camden Council, or some third party, such as Antifa,
and any other documentation relating to this planned meeting.

In the first instance, please accept our sincere apologies for the lengthy
delay in responding to your request and thank you for your patience in the
matter.  

When a request for information is made under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 (the Act), a public authority must inform you, when permitted,
whether the information requested is held. It must then communicate that
information to you. If a public authority decides that it cannot comply
with all or part of a request, it must cite the appropriate section or
exemption of the Act and provide you with an explanation. It is important
to note that the Act is designed to place information into the public
domain, that is, once access to information is granted to one person under
the Act, it is then considered public information and must be communicated
to any individual should a request be received. Any information released
under the Act is also published on the MPS website.

SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION
To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted
within the MPS which located relevant information.

DECISION
I have today decided to disclose some of the requested information.  Some
data has been withheld as it is exempt from disclosure and therefore this
response serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  

In addition, the Metropolitan Police Service can neither confirm nor deny
whether it holds any additional information pertinent to your request as
the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Act does not apply by virtue of the
following exemptions:

1.        Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
2.        Section 40(5) Personal Information

Please see the legal annex for further information on the exemptions
applied in respect of your request.

REASONS FOR DECISION
Although there is some information within the public domain about this
event,
 (https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/neo-n...),
release of any information under FOIA is a disclosure to the world, not
just to the individual making the request.  To confirm or deny whether
information is or is not held in respect of this event may reveal what
groups and individuals have been/are of interest to the MPS, what
intelligence has been gathered and through what means.  

To confirm or deny whether the information requested exists, could also
publicly reveal information about an individual or individuals, thereby
breaching the right to privacy afforded to people under the Data
Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation
(GDPR).

Please note that this response should not be taken as an indication of
whether or not the requested information is held.

DISCLOSURE
I have included below 'If Asked' press lines from our Communications
Department which was sent to a journalist at the International Business
Times in response to a request.  

Press Lines:
IF ASKED: Can confirm officers spoke to the management of the Millman
Street Centre, Holborn regarding matters of security in relation to an
event that was due to be held there on 9 August. The venue subsequently
took the decision to cancel the booking for the event.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me via email at [email address], quoting the reference
number above.

Kind regards,

Suzanne Mason
Information Manager

 
LEGAL ANNEX

Section 17(1) of the Act provides:

(1)        A public authority which, in relation to any request for
information, is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in
part II relating to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request
or on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time
for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-

(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption
applies.

Section 31(3)) of the Law Enforcement Act provides:
The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that,
compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice
any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1).
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/200...

Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption and there is a
requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused if the information
requested is released and I am required to carry out a public interest
test.

Overall Harm for Section 31
A Freedom of Information Act request is not a private transaction.  Both
the request itself, and any information disclosed, are considered suitable
for open publication. This is because, under the Act, any information
provided is released into the wider public domain, effectively to the
world, not just to an individual.
This request for information seeks to establish whether the MPS is in
possession of any correspondence relating to the planned meeting of Keep
Talking at the Millman Street Centre.  Any information released under the
Act is published on the MPS Website and the MPS has no control over what
use is made of that information.  Release of information if held,
concerning this planned event could compromise future law enforcement
tactics and provide an operational advantage to individuals intent on
carrying out criminal behaviours with regard to security and crime
prevention.  

Public safety is of paramount importance to the MPS and modern-day
policing is intelligence-led and this is particularly pertinent with
regard to law enforcement crime prevention.  The public expect police
forces to use all powers and tactics available to them to prevent and
detect crime or disorder and maintain public safety.

Public Interest Test
The public interest is defined not as what the public might find
interesting but there must be some tangible benefit to the public in the
disclosure of the interest.

Public Interest Considerations Favouring Disclosure - S.31
Confirming or denying that information relevant to the request exists, may
lead to better public awareness into how the MPS functions and makes
decisions.   This may also lead to more information (intelligence) being
submitted from the public which can result in a reduction of crime.

Public Interest Considerations Favouring non-Disclosure S.31
Confirming or denying that information exists, could compromise the
effective delivery of operational law enforcement, by identifying what
groups and individuals have been/are of interest, what intelligence has
been gathered and through what means.  This would undermine the tactical
options available to the MPS.

Balancing Test

The security of the country is of paramount importance and the MPS will
not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would
compromise law enforcement and place the safety of individual(s) at risk.
Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing
operations and in this case, confirming or denying whether any
correspondence exists in relation to this planned event, there is a very
strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police
investigations and operations.

After weighing up the competing interests, I have determined that the
disclosure of the requested information if held, would not be in the
public interest.  I consider that any benefit that may result, does not
outweigh the considerations favouring non-disclosure.
There is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national
security and the integrity of police operations when delivering effective
operational law enforcement to ensure the prevention and detection of
crime is carried out and the effective apprehension or prosecution of
offenders is maintained.
It is therefore our opinion that for these issues, the balance test
favours neither confirming nor denying that information exists.

None of the above can be viewed as an inference that information does or
does not exist.

Section 40(5)(b)(a)(i) of the Personal Information Act provides:
5(b) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to other
information if or to the extent that any of the following applies-
(a) giving a member of the public the confirmation or denial that would
have to be given to comply with section 1(1)(a)-
(i) would (apart from this Act) contravene any of the data protection
principles, or

Section 40(5) of the Act is an absolute class based exemption. In claiming
this exemption, there is no requirement to consider whether confirming or
denying if information is held is in the public interest.

This request for information seeks to establish whether the MPS is in
possession of any correspondence relating to the planned meeting of Keep
Talking at the Millman Street Centre.  To confirm or deny whether any
correspondence is held could identify names of individuals who would have
no reasonable expectation that their views could be made known publicly.
To do so would present an unreasonable risk of identification, if any
information is held.  Providing an answer in confirmation or denial that
information is held would accordingly, reveal personal data and be in
breach of the general right to privacy provided by the Data Protection Act
2018 (DPA).

In complying with their statutory duty under sections 1 and 11 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release the enclosed information, the
Metropolitan Police Service will not breach the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988. However, the rights of the copyright owner of the
enclosed information will continue to be protected by law.  Applications
for the copyright owner's written permission to reproduce any part of the
attached information should be addressed to MPS Directorate of Legal
Services, 10 Lambs Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NR.

 
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint
If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Information Rights Unit
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner
After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to or
phone:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 0303 123 1113

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

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Ian Fantom left an annotation ()

I today sent a complaint to the UK Information Commissioner. The crux of it is:

1. The Metropolitan Police took 119 days to respond to my request, nearly six times the maximum time allowed under the Freedom of Information Act. They have therefore been in gross breach of the law.

2. They refuse to confirm or deny whether the information exists, when they have already admitted to me that they have information on this. Their reasons for doing so must therefore be suspect.

3. They invoke the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation, which they did not do in our previous correspondence, and which I think they would have done, had there been genuine reason for doing so.

4. If they had intelligence about our group causing disruption, then surely I as the organiser of the meeting should have been the first to have been informed. But they had already stated to me that they had no such information, even if that statement was so worded as to imply to an outside party that we had.

5. They do not state whose privacy could be endangered, but I fail to see under what circumstances they could communicate data to the Millman Centre, but not to me. The question of it going out to the public because of the request being a Freedom of Information request is clearly a red herring, since they could have communicated that information to me when I made my original request without invoking the Freedom of Information Act.

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)'s handling of my FOI request 'Information concerning cancelling of Keep Talking meeting on police advice'.

This is a formal request for an internal review of my Freedom of Information Request, which you referenced in the subsequent correspondence as ‘Freedom of Information Request Reference No: PD025’, ‘Case reference: 2018090000658’ and ‘Freedom of Information Review Reference No: 2018110000115’. Your reply to that request, when it eventually arrived, invited me to write to you for further information, stating, “Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please contact me via email at [email address], quoting the reference number above”. The email address was removed by the website software in the What Do They Know website, so I wrote to you using the email address you had previously responded with when I originally requested this information before I resorted to the Freedom of Information Act. Your last communication on that was dated 28 January 2019 from ‘Cyclops on behalf of Peter Deja <[email address]>’, stating “Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act). You will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act”. In other words, ‘Cyclops’, whoever they are, are treating this as a new information request under the Freedom of Information Act. The letter was headed ‘Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 01/FOI/19/000924’.

However, I had already submitted a request for an internal review after the statutory time limit had expired from the original Freedom of Information request, and so to my mind I had in fact followed all the correct procedures. Then on 8 November I received an email from the police, admitting that they had not complied with the law, and saying , “As a response to your request is currently outstanding, I am unable to complete a full internal review in relation to your request”. Thank you, but that was the whole point of requesting an internal review. At the time there was no prospect of you ever responding to my Freedom of Information request, since the time limit was way beyond the legally required time limit , and you had given no good reason for your delay. So we had there a Gilbertian chicken-and-egg situation. I am now asking you to perform an honest and straight-forward internal review of the case with no further delays. It is very clear to me that the London Metropolitan Police have something to hide over their involvement in the closing down of the meeting at the Millman Centre, of which I was the organiser. I wish to assure you that I take this matter extremely seriously, and so do many others who are now aware of this case. I would be grateful if you would communicate that fact to all who were concerned with the London Metropolitan Police’s intervention which led to the cancellation of my meeting.

When I review our correspondence as a whole, going back to my original request for information, sent shortly after the closing down of our meeting, there are glaring inconsistencies. The police response was:
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Good Morning Mr. Fantom,
Please see the following in response to your below email:-
The Keep Talking event planned for the Millman Centre, Millman Street, WC1 on 09th AUGUST 2017 HAS NOT been cancelled by the Metropolitan Police Service.
The Millman Centre have exercised their right as a private venue to cancel bookings.
The Metropolitan Police Service has no record of events organised by the group Keep Talking attracting public disorder, however persons who have been associated with this event on social media have previously attracted interest from extreme right wing / right wing groups at meetings/demonstrations which have attracted opposition from extreme left wing groups or where, by their behaviour, they have incited disorder from those opposed to their ideology resulting in localised disorder.
Kind regards
Jacqueline Joyce PC3144CN, Event Planning (Partnership & Prevention), Central North Basic Command Unit, Kentish Town Police Station, 12a Holmes Road, London, NW5 3AE, T 0208-733-6104, E-mail:- [email address]<mailto:[email address]>
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I responded:
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Dear PC Joyce,
Thank you for your response to my information request regarding the cancellation of the Keep Talking meeting by the Millman Street Community Centre. As a police officer you will understand my need for absolute clarity over this issue.
Neither I nor Paul Crozier of the Millman Street Community Centre suggested that the police closed the meeting. The wording of Paul Crozier’s email, which I provided to you made clear that he was saying that they cancelled the booking, on the basis of information received from the police. Whether or not they had the right to cancel the meeting depends on the contractual agreement between them and me.
I would be grateful if you would make it absolutely clear whether or not the Metropolitan Police issued any communication to the Millman Street Community Centre regarding Keep Talking prior to the decision by the Millman Street Centre to cancel the booking.
Yours sincerely,
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I didn’t receive a reply.

If the police had not been involved in the closing down of that meeting, then they could not have known whether or not the Millman Centre had exercised their right to cancel the booking. The Millman Centre and I had a contract, so unless the London Metropolitan Police had studied that contract, and had known of good reason why that contract should be broken, then their statement was a fabrication. Their statement, in capitals (meaning shouting) that they had not closed the meeting down was answering an allegation not made. As far as I am aware, they would not have had the power to close that meeting down. Any normal interpretation of that would suggest that they were saying that they had not been involved in the closing down of that meeting, which was clearly untrue. The final paragraph is a piece of semantic distortion, which I think, if put to the Millman Centre, would have implied that my group was the source of disruption by attracting unruly elements. I believe that that was the essence of the communication they sent to the Millman Centre, rather than to inform me as organiser of the meeting of such a situation. In any case, Keep Talking did not have a presence in social media, and neither did my colleague or I, who run the group. I asked for clarification, but was ignored. For that reason I eventually, and reluctantly, made an information request under the Freedom of Information Act.

In refusing my Freedom of Information request, the London Metropolitan Police wrote: “Although there is some information within the public domain about this event, (https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/neo-n...), release of any information under FOIA is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request. To confirm or deny whether information is or is not held in respect of this event may reveal what groups and individuals have been/are of interest to the MPS, what intelligence has been gathered and through what means”. They also wrote: “To confirm or deny whether the information requested exists, could also publicly reveal information about an individual or individuals, thereby breaching the right to privacy afforded to people under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)”.

My complaint is:

1. The Metropolitan Police took 119 days to respond to my request, nearly six times the maximum time allowed under the Freedom of Information Act. They have therefore been in gross breach of the law.
2. They refuse to confirm or deny whether the information exists, when they have already admitted to me that they have information on this. Their reasons for doing so must therefore be suspect.
3. They invoke the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation, which they did not do in our previous correspondence, and which I think they would have done, had there been genuine reason for doing so.
4. If they had intelligence about our group causing disruption, then surely I as the organiser of the meeting should have been the first to have been informed. But they had already stated to me that they had no such information, even if that statement was so worded as to imply to an outside party that we had.
5. They do not state whose privacy could be endangered, but I fail to see under what circumstances they could communicate data to the Millman Centre, but not to me. The question of it going out to the public because of the request being a Freedom of Information request is clearly a red herring, since they could have communicated that information to me when I made my original request without invoking the Freedom of Information Act.

Regarding point 5, let us take all the logical possibilities:

1. The person whose personal data would be revealed is me. In this case, there would have been no reason to withhold that data from me, and I should, as the organiser of the meeting, surely have been the first to be told. I would in any case have a human right to check whether that data was correct or not. As it is, they state that part of the information is in the public domain, and refer to a newspaper article whose headline is pure fabrication. This is disgraceful behaviour.
2. The person whose personal data would be revealed is one of my colleagues. In this case, surely I as organiser of the meeting would have had more right to know than the Millman Centre.
3. The person whose personal data would be revealed is a possible attendee of the meeting. Then the person the police should have contacted regarding possible disruption would have been me, rather than the Millman Centre.
4. The person whose personal data would be revealed is one of the possible disruptors. Again, there can be no reason why the Millman Centre should be given access to that information and me as organiser of the meeting be denied it.
5. The person whose personal data would be revealed is a police informer. This seems to me to be the most likely case, since there was a far-right person who used to come to our meetings, but had stopped coming the previous year, who seemed to be in collusion with the newspaper ‘journalist’ who produced the false headline about our group being about to discuss Mossad’s role in the death of Princess Diana. When that happened I removed him from my circulation list, as the newspaper report states. But we do not impose political restrictions on our audiences, just as community centres like the Millman Street Centre don’t, and just as churches don’t. If that was good reason to close our meeting down, then potentially every church service in the country could be closed down, because they are well-known for attracting sinners. Again, I see no circumstances in which such personal information could be given to the Millman Centre and not to me.

I think it is clear that the Data Protection Act is being used as a pretext for covering up the involvement of the London Metropolitan Police in closing down our Keep Talking meeting of 9 August 2017. The internal reviewer will have access to this data, and will be able to see whose data is being protected. I urge the internal reviewer impartially to investigate what lies behind this action by the London Metropolitan Police, and to take the appropriate action.

I would stress the extreme importance of this case. If a police force can cause meetings to be closed down like this, without public accountability, then that takes the whole country into very dangerous territory. It means that groups which question the authorities can be summarily closed down and their leaders ostracised. This is exactly what is happening throughout the country to a wide variety of groups. This means a transition from a fundamentally democratic state to a tyrannical police state.

Furthermore, this particular case involved a talk relating to the death of Princess Diana, by a playwright who had previously had a play performed in central London, and who had previously given us a talk on the same subject. The London Metropolitan Police’s involvement in the closing down of that talk, together with their gross violation of the law in taking nearly six times the required time to respond, together with their previous evasions and misleading statements to me, will lead many people looking at this case to wonder just what the London Metropolitan Police have to hide in relation to the death of Princess Diana.

The suspicion that will inevitably arise from this case, together with the police methods used in suppressing free democratic expression, tells us that we no longer have policing by consent in this country.

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

Yours faithfully,

Ian Fantom

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