New policy on whatdotheyknow.com

The request was partially successful.

Dear Brent Borough Council,

I have read about your new policy of not sending replies to FOI requests to the whatdotheyknow.com website.

I would like to request access to all internal records concerning this policy change, including but not limited to internal emails, memoranda, letters and notes as well as records of meetings. Moreover I should like a copy of the formal decision of the policy change or if such does not exist, the announcement distributed about it to staff.

I am also grateful for answers to the following questions (which you may or may not decide to treat as business-as-usual instead of FOI requests)

1. Who made the final decision on this policy change? (Name and/or Job title)
2. Who was consulted beforehand?
3. Was legal advice requested?
4. Was the ICO contacted and if yes, what was their reply?

Please allow to indicate my clear preference of receiving above information to the email address this request is sent from.
I trust you will follow this preference of mine, as all other public authorities do. In fact, the Ministry of Justice which has the policy lead on both copyright and FOI legislation is perfectly content with replying to this site and it appears strange that you should wish to depart from that practice.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Bimmler

Brent Borough Council

Brent Council - INFORMATION REQUEST

Our Reference: 566383
====================================================

Dear Mr. Bimmler

Thank you for your request for information received on 18 December 2009. We
aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.

However, whilst we may send the formal notification of the decision to the
email address you have provided we will not send the information requested
to that address. This is because we are aware that doing so will
automatically result in the information being published on the
whatdotheyknow website. Publication of information in this way may
constitute an unauthorised re-use (under the Re-use of Public Sector
Information Regulations 2005) and may infringe copyright. I would therefore
be grateful if you will provide me with an alternative disclosure address.
This can be a postal address, fax number or an email address, as long as it
does not result in automatic publication and re-use.

If you wish to apply for permission to re-use any of the requested
information you may do so by writing to the IT Standards Manager at Brent
Council, Floor 5, 349-357 High Road, Wembley HA9 6BZ , telephone 020 8937
1402, e-mail [Brent Borough Council request email]

If you wish to appeal against the requirement to provide an alternative
disclosure address you can do so by writing to the IT Standards Manager at
the address given above.

You also have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner. However,
the Information Commissioner will not normally consider an appeal until you
have exhausted your rights of redress and complaint to the Council. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted as follows: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9
5AF; Telephone: 01625 545 700, www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Stephen F Williams,
DPA & FOI Consultant
[email address]
--
The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

Dear Mr Williams,

thank you for your acknowledgement of my FOI request. I note your confirmation that you are not willing to send disclosed records to this address. As I have made clear in my request, I object to this policy but I believe that requesting an internal review at this stage is premature. What I propose is that you consider my FOI request now in the 20 working days available to you by law and then write to me at this address, in one of the following ways

a) sending me the requested information
b) indicating to me that you need more time to consider my request (e.g. for Public Interest test purposes)
c) indicating to me that you are not willing to disclose the material because it is exempted under specific FOIA 2000 sections
d) indicating to me that you are willing to disclose material but are rejecting to send it to this address.

I would obviously expect detailed reasoning if you issue a Rejection Notice per c) or d) and I will then consider raising an Internal Review request.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Dear Brent Borough Council,

I believe you should have replied to my FOI request by yesterday, though please do tell me if your own calculations suggest otherwise.

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler

Stephen F Williams, Brent Borough Council

Brent Council - INFORMATION REQUEST

Our Reference: 566383
====================================================

Dear Mr. Bimmler

Thank you for your reminder.

The information is held and is available to send to you on receipt of an
alternative address with the exception of some personal data consisting of
the names of staff contributing to internal correspondence.

This information is redacted in accordance with Section 40 of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000.

If you are dissatisfied with the response or how the Council has handled
your request you can complain to the Council by writing to the following
address: IT Standards Manager at Brent Council,Floor 5, 349-357 High Road,
Wembley HA9 6BZ telephone 020 8937 1402, e-mail [Brent Borough Council request email]. It is
the Council's policy to ensure that, where practicable, your complaint is
dealt with by someone who was not involved in the original decision.

You also have a right of appeal about our decision to the Information
Commissioner, however, the Information Commissioner will not normally
consider an appeal until you have exhausted your rights of redress and
complaint to the Council. The Information Commissioner can be contacted as
follows:
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF; Telephone: 01625 545 700,
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk
As part of our commitment to improve our service to our customers we would
welcome any feedback on the way that we have dealt with your request.

Yours sincerely

Stephen F Williams,
DPA & FOI Consultant
[email address]

--
The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

Dear Stephen F Williams,

I take note that you are refusing to supply the records I sought through the avenue I prefer while at the same time not providing a valid refusal notice per Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act. This is clearly unsatisfactory.

Pursuant to Section 11, clause 1, Freedom of Information Act 2000, I have expressed a preference for a copy of the records to be sent to me at this specific e-mail address. As far as reasonably practicable, you must give effect to that requirement. We agree, I believe, that you would be ready to send the documents in electronic form to a different e-mail address, therefore you cannot maintain that it is not practicable to send the records to this e-mail address here, which would require no special effort of you.

Pursuant to Section 11, clause 3, you would need to notify me and give reasons for why you do not consider it reasonably practicable to comply with my preference. You have failed to do so.

Pursuant to Section 10, clause 1, you had 20 working days to respond to my request and after the end of the 20th working day, I have neither received a valid refusal notice nor a notice of time extension nor the requested documents from you, instead, I only receive this belated and unsatisfactory correspondence.

I request an Internal Review at your earliest convenience to avoid further delay.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Dear Brent Borough Council,

this is just to briefly note that I would appreciate an acknowledgment of my Internal Review request of January 26, if that is convenient.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Bimmler

FOI, Brent Borough Council

Dear Mr Bimmler

I am happy to acknowledge your request for Internal Review. We aim to provide a response within 20 working days.

Stephen Williams

FOI & DPA Consultant
for Brent ITU

show quoted sections

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

They took over two months to respond to my request for an internal review and when it finally arrived they just upheld the earlier decision not to send the information to a What Do They Know Address. I have just submitted a complaint to the ICO about this issue. I have also told the ICO that others are having the same problem.

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

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

well, we shall see. Maybe a gentle hint from the ICO will suffice to change their opinion. Otherwise, I intend to go through all the motions, Decision Notice included...

Dear Mr Williams,

please note that 20 working days have passed since I made my Internal Review request on January 26. May I expect your answer in the next days?

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Stephen F Williams, Brent Borough Council

Brent Council - INFORMATION REQUEST

Our Reference: 566383
====================================================

Dear Mr. Bimmler

Firstly, I apologise for the delay in responding to the Internal Review
that you requested.

Having reviewed your request and our request for you to supply us with an
alternative address to send your information, I have concluded that your
internal review has not been upheld.

The council has not and is not refusing to respond to your request which
it accepts is valid and is ready to supply the information requested.

The council does have an issue with using the 'whatdotheyknow' email
address. By using this email address, all responses are automatically
uploaded on the associated website without any apparent control. You
cannot assume that you can use information on the Internet freely just
because it is available and free of charge. It does not mean you
necessarily have an implied license.

The making of a Freedom of Information request cannot invalidate the
council's rights to control further use of its own information or abrogate
any duty it may owe to third party copyright holders. The concern is that
disclosing information in the manner requested would make the council
complicit in any such breach. Responding to an email address that
automatically publishes responses does not make it possible for the
council to exercise any controls referred to under the new regulations
governing the re-use of public sector information, which came into force
in July 2005 (Statutory Instrument 1515).

We have advised you of the means and circumstances in which we consider it
reasonable to communicate the information requested. I urge you to supply
an alternative address so that the information can be sent.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted as follows:
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF; Telephone: 01625 545 700,
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Rajesh Seedher

IT Standards Manager

Information Technology Unit

Business Transformation Department

Brent Council

Telephone 020 8937 1402

--
The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

ICO complaint filed

Rob Dyke left an annotation ()

I have just made a similar request to Brent Council.

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

I expect it to rejected.

I will also be taking up this point with my local councillors.

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

As well as pointing out the FOI law argument as to why they must respond, it is worth pointing out that they have no legal or policy need to attempt to prevent copying.

If the council has copyright of something, it does not have to stop anyone copying it. It isn't like a trademark, where you can lose it if you don't defend it.

I would specifically ask them, and/or get your local councilors to ask them, why they are choosing to waste time and money worrying about this, rather than just allowing the copying.

In particular, their emails above are just as much copyright the council, yet they are quite willing to let them be republished. What difference, in terms of service to council tax payers, is there with the substance of their response?

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

25 March 2010

Case Reference Number FS50299041

Dear Mr Bimmler

Your information request to Brent Council

Thank you for your correspondence dated 1 March 2010 in which you make a complaint about Brent Council’s decision not to release the information you requested.

Your case has been allocated to one of our case resolution teams who will contact you as soon as possible to explain how your complaint will be progressed.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent public body set up to promote public access to official information. We will rule on eligible complaints from people who are unhappy with the way public authorities have handled requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

If you need to contact us about any aspect of your complaint please contact our Freedom of Information Helpline on 0303 123 1113, being sure to quote the reference number at the top of this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Sent on behalf of

Mr Andrew White

FoI Triage Team Leader

Information Commissioner’s Office

Steve Elibank left an annotation ()

Do keep us posted!

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

I shall - nothing new to report for the moment though!

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

I have just heard from the ICO regarding my complaint (submitted early Feb 2010) about Brent's policy. I am aware that a number of people have complained so hopefully the ICO will deal with them all at the same time.

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

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

A must read for those wanting Brent to respond to their FOI requests via this website.

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/d...

M Bimmler

Dear Stephen F Williams,

I hope you will find time in the next days to read FS50276715, a new decision notice by the ICO addressing specifically this topic. It amy alter your view on the matter and I would be glad to withdraw my ICO complaint if you are willing to comply with this decision notice.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Williams, Stephenf, Brent Borough Council

Dear Michael

Thank you. The ICO had already sent us a copy which we have read with interest and we are currently considering its implications for your case and others. Of course, as you will appreciate, the ICO is not the final arbiter in these matters and I am endeavouring to discover whether the House of Commons will be appealing to the First Tier Tribunal.

Regards

Stephen Williams

FOI & DPA Consultant
for Brent ITU

show quoted sections

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Typical response from a council officer who makes a wrong decision, they don't like admitting they are wrong and prefer instead to waste even more council tax payers money trying to support an untenable position. Either local councillors or the Audit commission need to get involved in this case and stop any further waste of council tax payers money.

M Bimmler

Dear Stephen,

as you may or may not know, the House of Commons has written to the original requester in the FS50276715 case on June 23 and has stated that they will comply with the terms of the decision notice. The relevant e-mail is available here:

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

It appears therefore, that they do not intend to appeal the decision notice. If you have heard differently, though, I would appreciate if you could inform me.

Yours

Michael Bimmler

Williams, Stephenf, Brent Borough Council

Dear Michael

Thank you for your email. I have no contrary information.

Regards

Stephen Williams

FOI & DPA Consultant
for Brent ITU

show quoted sections

M Bimmler

Dear Stephen,

in that case, are there any further reasons why you should not proceed with sending those records you are willing to release?

Yours

Michael

Williams, Stephenf, Brent Borough Council

Dear Michael

The Council is reserving its position with regard to the ICO's decision in relation to the House of Commons and we are dealing with each request on a case by case basis.

We are currently awaiting the ICO's formal response to our representations after which I will seek instructions on how to proceed. The ICO was in contact with us today so I trust that the response will be with us shortly.

Regards

Stephen Williams

show quoted sections

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

they couldn't just accept the non-appealed DN against the House of Commons, could they?

Well, if Brent Council needs its very own Decision Notice, copy-pasted from the HoC one, then I am happy to play along. But I really do question whether this is very efficient use of legal funds.

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Why should Brent worry, after all they are only wasting taxpayers money supporting their untenable position, not members or officers money.

Local people should ensure they vote all the idiots who supported this misuse of public money out of office at the next local election.

M Bimmler

Dear Stephen,

thank you - I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

M Bimmler

Chris left an annotation ()

Find out how much this nonsense is costing them, then file an objection to the council's accounts.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

good point though it's probably sensible to wait with this until the case is finished - we don't know yet how far this will go (Information Tribunal?).

By the way: Does one have to be a resident of the area of the Local Authority to file an objection to the accounts as you propose? Because if so, we need to find someone in Brent to do so - I live some 50 miles north-west...

Doug Paulley left an annotation ()

I am intending to refer the whole thing to the Brent council and overview committee at some point, after the farcical way they dealt with / are dealing with one of my requests.

Williams, Stephenf, Brent Borough Council

14 Attachments

Dear Michael

Below is the response we sent to the Whatdotheyknow.com website on 21^st
July. About 4^th the ICO let us know that they had not received their
copy and we re-sent with the same result. It transpires that the email
was halted by messagelabs at our end because of a false positive virus
alert. This has now been investigated and tested but outward blocked
messages cannot be released so we are re-sending.

Regards

Stephen Williams

For Brent

From: Williams, Stephenf
Sent: 21 July 2010 19:06
To: '[FOI #24836 email]'
Cc: '[email address]'; Seedher, Raj
Subject: [Ref. FS50299041] Information Request (ref: 566383)

Dear Michael

Further to recent correspondence with the Office of the Information
Commissioner I am writing to you to communicate the recorded information
which we are disclosing in response to the above request and the
subsequent appeal by you to the Information Commissioner.

We have applied two exemptions. The first is Section 40(2). We have
applied this to withhold the names and other identifying information of
junior staff and other persons who do not have responsibility for
determining policy. Section 40 (2) provides that personal data is exempt
from disclosure if disclosure would breach any of the data protection
principles. In this instance it is the first principle that would be
breached. The first principle requires that processing of personal data
must be fair, legal and in accordance with one of the conditions set out
at schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act. Disclosure of the identities of
the persons concerned would be unfair in the circumstances. We have also
concluded that none of the conditions for processing apply to disclosure
of these names. We have considered in particular condition 6, which
requires the legitimate interests of the persons to whom the information
is to be disclosed to be weighed against the rights of the individuals
affected and have concluded that disclosure in these circumstances is
unwarranted.

The second exemption applied Section 42 of the Freedom of Information
Act. Section 42 exempts information which is the subject of legal
privilege. Section 42 is a qualified exemption but we have concluded that
the public interest in accountability and transparency is not sufficient
to overturn the strong public interest in legal privilege, especially as
the matters in issue have yet to be tested in the Courts.

The information has been zipped and password protected. The password is
available to you the applicant upon request .

Please note that the information provided may be subject to copyright and
you may require further permission from the Council to re-use it. If you
require further guidance please write to Raj Seedher, the IT Standards
Manager at the above email address.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Williams

For Brent ITU

--
The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

Dear Mr Williams,

The files you sent are password-protected. As long as the password has not been received, they do not allow access to information as requested.

Thus, you have not fulfilled your obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 unless you send a password to this address or, preferably, send an unencrypted version of the files. I have notified the ICO accordingly.

Yours sincerely,

M Bimmler

Raphael Clifford left an annotation ()

Release of information under the FOIA 2000 is applicant and person blind and to the "world at large", as is confirmed in numerous decision notices of the ICO. It is entirely inappropriate in that case to encrypt released information in such a way as to make it impossible for the world at large to see it.

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

M Bimmler - several things you can do:

a) Insist they send you the password to this address. I would say they have to do so, as the password *is* a vital part of the response to your request, and there are plenty of ICO decisions showing that authorities have to send to a WhatDoTheyKnow address if you want them to.

b) Make a separate FOI request for the password :)

I'll write to Brent separately asking about it.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

Francis: I think I'll pursue option a) for now (and I've also written to the ICO in these terms, though with no response yet).

I don't really want to wait 20 working days to figure out whether Brent finds another exemption why not to send the password...or play funny games, such as send the password in a pdf file encrypted with a different password ;-)

But I'll certainly insist on them sending the pssword here (or resend the records unencrypted).

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Any information sent should be in a format that is readable by / accessible to, the receiver, There is no excuse for zipping FOI responses at all let alone password protecting them. The ICO needs to stop dragging their feet and issue a decision notice without delay.

Raphael Clifford left an annotation ()

The relevant information tribunal appeal case is http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/Do... and in particular paragraph 80.

"We wish to emphasise at this point that the Freedom of Information Act is applicant and motive blind. A disclosure under FOIA, is a disclosure to the public [ie the world at large]. In dealing with a Freedom of
Information request there is no provision for the public authority to look at from whom the application has come, the merits of the application or the
purpose for which it is to be used. Consequently, there is no provision for the public authority to create conditions of use pursuant to a FOIA disclosure or to indicate that such disclosure should be treated in confidence. A disclosure by the public authority of information already known to a party may well prove a more useable form of information to that applicant. Confirmation of information through disclosure legitimises it and creates an “official” version of information."

Maybe someone from Brent could write to their MP about the way the council is wasting everyone's time and the tax payers' money.

Doug Paulley left an annotation ()

It's not the first time that they have behaved in this ridiculous way.

I didn't like the way they dealt with a previous response, so asked for a copy of their complaints procedure to make a complaint. They treated the request for the complaints procedure as a FoI request, and supplied it with a license to reuse, but in a password protected ZIP file.

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

This afternoon I shall get round to writing to the council Scrutiny committee about it.

doug paulley

Doug Paulley left an annotation ()

I've started making a referral to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel. Was interesting on phoning Brent switchboard, they weren't even aware such a department existed until they checked in their phone directory! Spoke to a very helpful woman who suggested using the complaints procedure (!) and has given her personal email address for me to send the stuff to. I am pointing out my own specific two FoI requests ro Brent and their handling, but will suggest that they check out WDTK for evidence that this is a systemic problem with Brent FoI rather than with my specific case.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

News from the ICO (August 19):

"...
Thank you for your emails dated 11 and 12 August 2010, the contents of which I have noted.

I intend to phone Stephen Williams at the council again to discuss his latest response via the Whatdotheyknow website. Obviously, if he maintains his position I’ll have to draft a Decision Notice for the Commissioner to sign.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

..."

Andy Mabbett left an annotation ()

Brent Council's Open Data page:

http://www.brent.gov.uk/xml

"Please contact the Webmaster via the Feedback form if you would like to request additional data3…"

John Cross left an annotation ()

In my view the public authority in this case has breached section 1 of the Act by failing to communicate the information to the person making the request. In addition it has breached section 11 by failing to communicate in a "form acceptable to the applicant". Finally, sending a password encrypted the without the password is particularly unhelpful and a breach of the public authority's duty under section 16 "It shall be the duty of a public authority to provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so, to persons who propose to make, or have made, requests for information to it."

The section 45 Code of Practice states that: "... and public authorities should be flexible in offering advice and assistance most appropriate to the circumstances of the applicant."

http://www.foi.gov.uk/reference/imprep/c...

Raphael Clifford left an annotation ()

It's clear that any ICO ruling will instruct Brent council to comply when it comes. So that part is mostly resolved.

The real question is how can councils be incentivised not to behave manifestly unreasonably in relation to the FOI Act. I would have thought that first writing to the various councillors and the MP directly and then to the local/national press would be a good route. I feel they might not like to see a question in parliament about their behaviour. Having said that, the overview and scrutiny committee also seems like a good idea. Any other ideas?

Anne Hide left an annotation ()

"The real question is how can councils be incentivised not to behave manifestly unreasonably in relation to the FOI Act."

Why should they be offered an incentive not to breach the FOI Act. Surely they should be punished for breaking the law as we are when we break the law.

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

There are two specific "punishments" available within the act: s77 offences where people deliberately destroy or hide information, and contempt of court proceedings when a decision notice or enforcement notice is ignored.

However enforcement notices from the ICO are very rare so it's very unlikely that they'd use one in this case unless Brent keep this up for quite a bit longer, so the publicity/elected representatives route is most likely to be fruitful.

Mark Goodge left an annotation ()

How long is it likely to take before the ICO issues a ruling?

In the meantime, this is possibly a little mischief-making but it might serve to point out the ludicrousness of Brent's policy:

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

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

A decision notice from the ICO could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months from the point they decide to write one.

In relation to my own complaint, the ICO have now said that Brent "have advised they are seeking further advice as to the value of appealing any Decision Notice on the matter to the Information Tribunal."

I have asked how long more they will be given to decide on this, and I am strongly considering insisting on a decision notice anyway at this point, given that Brent promised on 13th July to send a reply within 20 working days and have now broken that promise, along with various other failings.

Anne Hide left an annotation ()

ICO is another toothless watchdog hoping to persuade public authorities to comply because they know they can't really do anything about it if they don't comply. Brent is a typical example of how a public authority can run rings round the ICO and the FOI Act.

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

The ICO has the means to enforce compliance against recalcitrant authorities (enforcement notices). They just don't use it much - they've only ever issued two.

Generally they seem far more keen on declaring cases closed rather than dealing properly with the issues they raise. That's why I am inclined to insist on a decision notice so at least the authority's failings are properly recorded in a public way.

Chris left an annotation ()

Perhaps I should try a similar line if I'm done for speeding. "Message received and understood, I realize I'm in the wrong, won't happen again, case closed?"

IMO ICO should go direct to enforcement action - this is blatant, deliberate chicanery by the council of a sort that is utterly indefensible.

Raphael Clifford left an annotation ()

If you read the decision notices on the ICO website, you will find that Brent is not the only public authority reluctant to comply with the FOI Act. Normally in such cases there is a commentary at the end of the decision notice about how awkward the public authority was to deal with. To get some indication of the scale of the problem (and the new approach they have taken to deal with it) see the recently released enforcement log http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/en... .

Given also that public authorities will often have political party representation with the ear of the government, the ICO does not have an easy task at all. That's why writing to the councillors/MP and/or the press to complain about the public authority could be really helpful to the ICO.

Richard Scott left an annotation ()

Just asked for a copy of this information under a new FOI request. Wonder how this will be responded to...

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

Thanks everyone for commenting on this request, I am grateful for all the ideas raised! Some brief points:

1) I will certainly be insisting on a Decision Notice by the ICO. I am currently waiting for my ICO contact to get back to me after calling Brent Council one last time. I expect that (unless Brent complies now) a decision notice will then be drafted, but as said by others, this can take a long time - especially the stage where the draft gets approved by the person who eventually signs it.

2) Once the Decision Notice has become final (i.e. unless Brent appeals to the Tribunal), I will write to the ICO, asking them to pass the records in this case on to the Enforcement Team which can issue a Practice Recommendation or Enforcement Notice against Brent Council for systematic and continued contravention of the Freedom of Information Act.

3) I agree that it is very worthwhile also to pursue this on the political level and I am very grateful to those who are writing or have already written to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel, to local councillors, MPs and the press. I have decided that I, myself, will focus on the administrative-judicial process and not participate in the political process at the same time - I think it is better when different people do the latter to show that I am not the only one bothered by Brent's attitude.

Owen Boswarva left an annotation ()

I have the password for the 14 zip files. Will it prejudice anyone's position if I post it here?

(I have no link to Brent BC or, to the best of my knowledge, any other party to this correspondence. The password was obtained in a legal manner.)

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

It should be left to Brent to supply the information. They tried to send a response to my FOI request by the back door hoping I would post it on the WDTK website instead of them, thus circumventing the problem. I refused and the ICI eventually persuaded Brent to respond through the WDTK website.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

"...

I refer to my email dated 1 September 2010 and write to inform you of the outcome of my discussions with the council and our Enforcement team.

Earlier this week our Enforcement team wrote to the council’s Chief Executive and gave him until 14 September 2010 to respond via whatdotheyknow.com (WDTK) to each of the requests which we are currently handling. We have also asked the Council’s Chief Executive to respond to the other requests on the website which remain outstanding for the same reason, i.e., the council’s refusal to provide information via WDTK. If the council fails to take the specified action, further action will be considered.

Please let me know whether/when a response from the council is received.

Yours sincerely
..."

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

Excellent. I wonder if the Chief Executive was involved/aware of this whole thing before.

Williams, Stephenf, Brent Borough Council

14 Attachments

Dear Michael

Please find enclosed an open copy of the attachments to my email of 21^st
July re-sent to you on 12^th August 2010.

Kind regards

Stephen Williams

FOI & DPA Consultant

Brent ITU

020 8937 1426

Floor 5

349-357 High Road

Wembley

HA9 6BZ

--
The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

How delightful. And it only took nine months.

Dr Neil Bhatia left an annotation ()

Fascinating correspondence, I think it might come in very useful one day..!

Well done.

Neil

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Does anyone know what NSG stands for, in 13.pdf?

"This should provide a good example for our own disclosure register. A similar report should be possible through NSG."

It's nice that people in the council recognise that WhatDoTheyKnow is also an example of a disclosure register.

Alex Skene left an annotation ()

I'm pretty sure it stands for "NonStopGov" - an e-government software provider. Their suite of products includes a FOI case management module:

http://www.nonstopgov.com/products/fit.h...

Doug Paulley left an annotation ()

There's an apparent procedural impropriety revealed here (on top of all the other ones!)

Various people have asked for internal reviews after Brent refused to send responses via WTDK. Where supposed reviews have eventually (sometimes) been carried out, they have almost invariably been undertaken by IT Standards Manager, Raj Seedher. Indeed, Brent's standard boilerplate text as to how to appeal is to contact the IT Standards Manager.

Yet it is clear from the correspondence that the IT Standards Manager was key in the decision not to release information "in the clear" via WDTK. In fact, I get the impression he led this policy decision.

So every appeal, including this one, has been undertaken by the person that made the decision being appealed about, rather than by somebody above that officer.

Very bad practise I think. I wonder what, if anything, should be done about it.

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

The (probably) last message from the ICO:

" Thank you for your email dated 13 September 2010 from which I was pleased to learn that the council has finally disclosed the requested information in open documents.

I will now close your file and confirm that the complaint has been referred to and formally logged by our Enforcement Department."

Thanks to everyone who shared advice and suggestions here!

Raphael Clifford left an annotation ()

You have to love 14.pdf :)

Ben Jacobson left an annotation ()

After all that palaver, they forgot to fully redact #13

Doug Paulley left an annotation ()

I have been contacted today by the Wilson and Brent Times, who have picked up on Brents' treatment of FOI requests and in particular the issue with WDTK, after they experienced similar problems with obstructionism.

I gave an interview over the phone about my experiences and impressions.

The reporter is writing an article today; assuming that he gets it finished, he states it should be published on Friday and will also be available via their website.

Anne Hide left an annotation ()

Questions must be raised about the ICO's failure to get a grip of this situation and do something about it. For if it falls to public and political pressure to resolve the issue, what good is the ICO?

David Mery left an annotation ()

All these comments have been very useful when writing a response to the CQC in this request: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

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