Internal comms re Fitness to Practise Panel / Professional Conduct Committee

William Thackeray made this Freedom of Information request to General Medical Council

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

The request was refused by General Medical Council.

William Thackeray

Dear Sir or Madam,

I refer to my previous FOI query, your ref F09/2122/EH. You can find this online at:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fi...

Please provide internal and external communications (e.g. letters, emails, faxes, memos, minutes, etc) in respect of the two breaches of your code of conduct concerning non-declaration of interests.

I am aware that these documents may need to be redacted in order to protect the identity of individuals, in compliance with the DPA.

Thank you for your help with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

William Thackeray

FOI, General Medical Council

Our ref: F09/2186/EH

Dear Mr Thackeray

Information request

Thank you for your e-mail of 01 April 2009 in which you request
information in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

We will deal with your request in accordance with the provisions of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and you will normally receive the
information you seek within the 20 working day limit set by the Act.

The FOIA lists a number of exemptions that may prevent the release of
part, or all, of the information that you have requested. We will make an
assessment of the requested information and if it is subject to an
exemption you will be informed of this, together with details of your
right of appeal.

Your request has been allocated to Elizabeth Hiley. If you have any
queries concerning your request you can contact Ms Hiley on 0161 923 6314
or email [email address]

Yours sincerely

Janet Maclean

Information Access Team Administrator

0161 923 6324

[email address]

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Elizabeth Hiley (0161 923 6314), General Medical Council

Our ref: IAT/F09/2186/EH

Dear Mr Thackeray

Thank you for your email below. Your request has been considered in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I must confirm that we do hold the information requested, however, we
consider this information to be subject to two exemptions listed in the
FOIA. This email therefore acts as a refusal notice in respect of your
request for this information. The exemptions we believe apply are:

Section 40(2) by virtue of section 40(3)(a)(i) - Personal information of
a third party. This relates to information requested which relates to a
third party, and the disclosure of which would be in breach of the
Principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). In this instance we
believe that the disclosure of this type of information would breach the
First Principle of the DPA, which requires that the processing of
personal data is fair and lawful.

Section 41 - Information provided in confidence. This relates to
information supplied to the GMC by any person, the disclosure of which
would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by that or any other
person.

These exemptions are absolute, which means that they are not subject to
a public interest test (in order to assess if the public interest is
greater served by disclosing the information than maintaining the
exemption).

I should add that we have considered whether any of the documents held
could be redacted to ensure the anonymity of the individuals involved,
however, we do not feel that we can effectively redact the documents we
hold relating to either individual.

I am sorry I could not meet your request on this occasion. You have the
right of appeal against this decision. If you wish to appeal please set
out in writing your grounds, and send to Julian Graves, Information
Access Manager, at [email address]. You also have the right of appeal
to the Information Commissioner, the independent regulator of the FOIA.
If appropriate, Mr Graves will provide the relevant contact details.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Hiley
Information Access Officer
Tel no: 0161 923 6314
Email: [email address]

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William Thackeray

Thank you, Elizabeth. I'm going to request an internal review in respect of the redaction issue, but I wanted to thank you nontheless for your time and attention on this matter.

Yours Sincerely,
William Thackeray

William Thackeray

Dear Sir or Madam,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of General Medical Council's handling of my FOI request 'Internal comms re Fitness to Practise Panel / Professional Conduct Committee'.

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

My reason for requesting an internal review is:

Surely the documents can be redacted by simply removing the names (and other personal details such as addresses or telephone numbers) of the individuals involved.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray

Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

Dear Mr Thackeray

Thank you for your email below requesting an internal review of the
handling of your FOI request. I will consider this matter under our
comments and complaints procedure for information requests. This sets a
target response time of 20 working days from receipt. I will endeavour
to respond to you within this timeframe.

Yours sincerely

Julian Graves
Information Access Manager
General Medical Council
Tel. no: 0161 923 6351
Email: [email address]

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William Thackeray

Thank you, Julian.

William Thackeray

Dear Julian,

Just a quick heads-up that your target 20-day response time for this internal review elapsed some time ago, and we're now approaching the 40-day mark.

Thank you again for your time and assistance on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray

Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

I will be not be in the office again until Thursday 25 June 2009. I will
not have access to emails in the meantime.
Should the matter be urgent, please contact either Mark Ellen on 0161 923
6347 (email: [email address]), Elizabeth Hiley on 0161 923 6314 (email:
[email address]) or Louise Gormley on 0161 923 6311
([email address]). Alternatively I will deal with your email on my
return.

Many thanks

Julian Graves
Information Access Manager
General Medical Council

Unless otherwise expressly agreed by the sender of this email, this
communication may contain privileged or confidential information which is
exempt from disclosure under UK law. This email and its attachments may
not be used or disclosed except for the purpose for which it has been
sent.

If you are not the addressee or have received this email in error, please
do not read, print, re-transmit, store or act in reliance on it or any
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General Medical Council

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Regents Place, 350 Euston Road, London, NW1 3JN

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The GMC is a charity registered in England and Wales (1089278) and
Scotland (SC037750)

Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

Dear Mr Thackeray

Apologies for my delay in responding. You may have received my 'out of
office' message. My leave has obviously impacted on my ability to
respond to you on this one. I expect to be in a position to respond
fully by 1 July 2009.

Yours sincerely

Julian Graves
Information Access Manager
General Medical Council

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William Thackeray

OK, many thanks Julian.

Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

1 Attachment

Our ref: F09/2186/EH

Dear Mr Thackeray

I have now had the opportunity to consider your appeal against our
refusal to supply information to you in respect of your request seeking
the following:

"Please provide internal and external communications (e.g. letters,
emails, faxes, memos, minutes, etc) in respect of the two breaches of
your code of conduct concerning non-declaration of interests."
In our response we stated that the information requested was exempt from
the access provisions of the FOIA on the basis that it was subject to
two exemptions, namely the personal data exemption (S40(2) by virtue of
S40(3)(a)(i)) and the 'information provided in confidence' exemption
(S41).

I am satisfied that these exemptions were correctly applied in respect
of one of the breaches. This related to a public hearing and some
information concerning this matter is already in the public domain. On
that basis I am satisfied that we would not be able to successfully
anonymise any of the data held on this matter in respect of your request
without breaching principle 1 of the DPA. Equally, we believe that
information received from that panellist would have the necessary
quality of confidence for the S41 exemption to be applicable.
The other breach relates to an Interim Orders Panel (IOP) hearing held
in private. As such, I believe it is possible to provide you with an
anonymised version of our letter to that particular panellist. This is
attached for your information. For the avoidance of doubt all redactions
have been undertaken on the basis of the personal data exemption. I
continue to believe that the response received from the panellist would
have the necessary quality of confidence for the S41 exemption to be
applicable.

Should you continue to be dissatisfied with my response on this matter
you do have, as you are aware, a further right of complaint to the
Information Commissioner, the regulator of the FOIA.

Yours sincerely

Julian Graves
Information Access Manager
General Medical Council

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William Thackeray

Dear Julian,

Thank you for your reply to my internal review request.

I'm going to run this one past the ICO for their opinion, for the reason I have previously stated, and because my understanding of the FOIA is that each request must be considered in isolation (therefore responses to other requests are not relevant to this one), but thank you nontheless for the time and attention that you and your colleagues have spent on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray

William Thackeray left an annotation ()

Complaint submitted to ICO 29 June 09:

GMC refuses to release information re breaches in their code of conduct. Internal review done, full information still not released. Full details at:

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

I believe the information should be released because:

1) The documents could easily be redacted by removing identifying information (e.g. name, address)

2) The GMC argues that information released in response to other FOI requests would enable the identification of an individual, but my understanding of the FOIA is that each FOI request must be considered in isolation, therefore other FOI requests and responses are not relevant to this one.

Thank you.