Internal correspondence regarding blog post by Frances Guy

Guy Freeman made this Freedom of Information request to Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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 partially successful.

Dear Foreign and Commonwealth Office,

Frances Guy, the British Ambassador to the Republic of Lebanon, published a post to her blog at http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/guy/entry... concerning the death of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a post that was later deleted.

Please provide electronic copies of all internal correspondence you hold related to this post, including (but not restricted to) reactions from colleagues and managers of Ms. Guy, whether directed to her or not; how the decision to delete the post was come to; and any correspondence relating to the decision of Ms. Guy to write a new blog post about the incident, published at http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/guy/entry...

I remind you that you have a duty to reply with this information as soon as is practicable, and certainly within 20 working days, under the auspices of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I look forward to a speedy response.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Dear Mr Freeman

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. It has been assigned a unique reference number (above) and has been passed to the relevant section within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to deal with. They will be in touch with you should your request need clarification.

We received your request on 12 July 2010 and will aim to respond within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Team
Information Management Group

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

09 August 2010

Dear Mr Freeman,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST 0606-10

I am writing regarding your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act in which you asked for:

"Frances Guy, the British Ambassador to the Republic of Lebanon,

published a post to her blog at

[1]http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/guy/entry...

concerning the death of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a post

that was later deleted.

Please provide electronic copies of all internal correspondence you

hold related to this post, including (but not restricted to)

reactions from colleagues and managers of Ms. Guy, whether directed

to her or not; how the decision to delete the post was come to; and

any correspondence relating to the decision of Ms. Guy to write a

new blog post about the incident, published at

[2]http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/guy/entry...

The FOI Act obliges us to respond to requests promptly and in any case no
later than 20 working days after receiving your request. However, when a
qualified exemption applies to the information and the public interest
test is engaged, the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20
working days, and a full response must be provided within such time as is
reasonable in all circumstances of the case. We do, of course, aim to make
all decisions within 20 working days, including in cases where we need to
consider where the public interest lies in respect of a request for exempt
information. In this case, however, we have not yet reached a decision on
where the balance of the public interest lies.

In your case we estimate it will take up to an additional 20 working days
to take a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies.
Therefore, we plan to let you have a response by 6 September 2010. If it
appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we will
of course keep you informed.

The exemption we are currently considering in relation to your request is
Section 27 (International Relations).

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you should write to me at the above address. Please note any request for
an internal review must be submitted within 40 working days from the date
our response was issued.

If you are not content with the outcome your complaint, you may apply
directly to the

Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO
cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure
provided by The Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF.

Please contact me if you have any queries about this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Neville Jones

Near East Group

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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References

Visible links
1. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/guy/entry...
2. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/guy/entry...
3. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
4. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/

Dear Mr. Jones,

I look forward to receiving the information as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Guy Freeman

Dear Foreign and Commonwealth Office,

I believe I am supposed to receive this information today. Is that still the case?

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please find attached you FOI response for 0606-10.

Kind Regards,

Near East Group
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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Dear Foreign and Commonwealth Office,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office's handling of my FOI request 'Internal correspondence regarding blog post by Frances Guy', reference FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST 0606-10.

Although you are indeed entitled to take longer than 20 working days to make a decision on a public interest test, I don't believe it should take this long. Please let another team investigate why it has taken this long and whether it is reasonable under the circumstances.

I also look forward to receiving at least some of the information I requested as soon as possible.

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

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Dear Mr Freeman

Thank you for your request for an Internal Review of your FOI Request Ref 0606-10. It has been passed to the relevant department within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to deal with. They will be in touch with you with an outcome.

Yours sincerely

Jackie Till
Information Rights
Information Management Group | Information & Technology Directorate | Foreign & Commonwealth Office
email: [FCO request email]
... visit our blogs at http://blogs.fco.gov.uk

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

1 Attachment

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
2. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

Release of information delayed to 25th of October! The public interest test must be *extremely* complicated... Internal review ongoing.

The letter also includes the following paragraph:
"I note that you have placed several FOI requests with the FCO. Without wishing to prejudice any current or future appeals - you may wish to contact me or one of my colleagues in Information Rights Team to discuss aspects of freedom of information requests generally. We would be willing to discuss over the telephone or meet in person to discuss these general aspects of Freedom of Information as they apply to the FCO."

What could it mean?

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Dear Mr Freeman,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST 0606-10

I am writing regarding your request for an internal review of the time
taken to complete FOI request 0606-10.

You requested an internal review of the decision, conveyed to you in our
letter of 6 September 2010, notifying you it would take up to an
additional 20 working days to reply to your request made under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000.

I would like to apologise for the delay it has taken to respond to your
request with the information requested. I have conducted a full
examination of all the material of relevance to your request. As stated in
our above mentioned letter, we have aimed to consider where public
interest lies in respect of a request for exempt information.

The Near East Group is an extraordinarily busy department and receives a
large volume of complex Freedom of Information requests, some of which,
as you are aware, go to review and to the Information Commissioner's
Office. To enable the department to respond to requests promptly, we have
had to recruit a temporary officer to deal with these requests.
Regrettably, in instances where requests cover sensitive issues that would
or might affect relations between the UK and any other State, it is
crucial that sufficient time is taken to reach the most appropriate
conclusion. Unfortunately we haven't been able to reach a decision on
where the balance of the public interest lies in this instance but will
aim to do so as soon as possible.

If you are not content with the outcome of this Internal Review you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Doyin

Doyin Adele-Shiyanbola

Near East Group

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
2. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please find attached a letter informing you that we need further time to
consider your request 0606-10.

Kind Regards,

Near East Group

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
2. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

Delayed to 12th November 2010.........

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please find attached a letter informing you that we need further time to
consider your request 0606-10.

Kind Regards,

Near East Group

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
2. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

Another delay!!! New deadline: 3rd December 2010

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

The ICO says they should only take an extra 20 days: http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...

So you can probably complain to them now.

Dear Near East Group,

I write in relation to my request under the Freedom of Information Act, reference number 0606-10. I was promised a response by the 3rd of December, i.e. 3 days ago. I have been waiting a long time for this information now. Could you please update me as to the current status of my request?

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

Complaint has been sent to the ICO.

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

ICO response: http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...

"The Commissioner found substantial procedural breaches and ordered the public authority to issue a refusal notice compliant with section 17(3) or, in the alternative, release the requested information to the
complainant."

Paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Decision Notice are notable:

"9. In a letter dated 24 February 2011 the public authority wrote to the Commissioner as follows;
“You will no doubt be aware of recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa, as well other international crises. This has unfortunately placed an abnormally heavy workload on the FCO, which means that we currently have to reprioritise resources to effectively meet our international obligations. It would be really appreciated, therefore, if you could grant us a further 20 working day extension to allow us some space to give proper consideration to the points highlighted in your letter.”
10. The Commissioner replied (correspondence dated 7 March 2011) that the information request made in July 2010 remained de facto unanswered and that the current disruptions in the Middle East were relatively new. The Commissioner advised the public authority that he was therefore not willing to agree to the requested further 20 working day extension."

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Freeman,

With apologies for the delay in responding to your original request. I
attach the FCO's response to your Freedom of Information Request,
reference 0606-10.

Yours ever

Open Government Liaison Officer

Near East and North Africa Department | Middle East and North
Africa Directorate | Foreign and Commonwealth Office | London SW1A 2AH |
Tel: +44 (0)20 7008 1500 | [1]www.fco.gov.uk

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
Opens in a new window
http://www.fco.gov.uk/
2. http://www.fco.gov.uk/
3. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/

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