North Lanarkshire Council Councillors releasing confidential correspondence to members of the public

Janette Gibson made this Freedom of Information request to Standards Commission for Scotland

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 Standards Commission for Scotland,

How many Councillors of North Lanarkshire Council supplied there personal ,confidential and official communications with members of the public in period 2011 to 2017 to employees of the council

How many presently elected Councillors supplied personal and confidential correspondence relating to members of the public whom they engaged with to council employes so they may use and distribute privately or otherwise from 2010 to 2017 contrary to privacy and confidentiality acts .

How many complaints have you received in respect of this practice from 2010 to 2017

How many complaints relating to North Lanarkshire Councillors disadvantaging disabled and vulnerable persons by sharing there confidential information and others means they saw fit from 2008 to 2017

How many exemptions from abiding by the laws of privacy and confidentiality do North Lanarkshire Councillors hold

Does your office recognise the supreme courts authority in respect of the level of privacy and confidentiality expected of those in local goverment authorities and officials as in the HMRC ingenious media case

Are said Councillors in North Lanarkshire Council expected to abide by such or can they hand our confidential information to employees and members of the public as they see fit and thereafter for them to distribute as is there want.

Yours faithfully,

Janette Gibson

Janette Gibson left an annotation ()

Request sent by surface mail also with recorded receipt and all surface replies will be added to Request on line

SCS Enquiries, Standards Commission for Scotland

Dear Ms Fyffe

Thank you for your information request which was received on 23 February 2017. The matter has been referred to me for response and in terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 I will issue this within 20 working days from receipt of your request. Therefore you should receive a response no later than 23 March 2017.

If you have any questions in the interim period you should contact me at [Standards Commission for Scotland request email].

Yours sincerely

Mrs Elaine McLean

Business Manager
Standards Commission for Scotland
Room T2.21
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP

Tel: 0131 348 6666
DD: 0131 348 6665
www.standardscommissionscotland.org.uk

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McLean El (Elaine), Standards Commission for Scotland

Dear Ms Gibson

 

Thank you for your email of 23 February 2017 in which you requested
information from the Standards Commission in relation to the release of
confidential information by councillors to members of the public. Your
request for information has been passed to me to provide a response on
behalf of the Standards Commission.  This response is in accordance with
the terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.  For your
ease of reference I have listed the seven questions detailed in your
original email and provided the response against each of them. 

 

In providing the response to your information request I consider it would
be helpful to explain the remit of the Standards Commission.  The
Standards Commission is a public authority which was established by
Scottish Ministers following the enactment of the Ethical Standards in
Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000.  The Standards Commission’s
adjudicatory role is specific to dealing with reports issued by the
Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS). 
These are issued to the Standards Commission when the Commissioner
completes his investigation into a complaint made to him and where he
determines that a councillor has breached the Councillors' Code of
Conduct.  Following receipt of these reports from the CESPLS the Standards
Commission will then determine whether to:

·         direct the Commissioner for Ethical Standards to carry out
further investigation;

·         hold a Hearing;

·         do neither.

The CESPLS is an entirely distinct and separate organisation from the
Standards Commission.  As it is the CESPLS who deals with complaints, you
may consider that it is more appropriate to direct some of your questions
to the CESPLS. 

 

In relation to the questions raised in your email I provide the following
responses.

 

1.            How many Councillors of North Lanarkshire Council supplied
their personal, confidential  and official communications with members of
the public in period 2011 to 2017 to employees  of the council

 

The Standards Commission does not hold any information about North
Lanarkshire Councillors giving information obtained by them from members
of the public in relation to personal, confidential and official
communications and then supplying this information to employees of the
Council.

 

2.            How many presently elected  Councillors supplied personal
and confidential correspondence relating  to members of the public whom 
they engaged with to council employees so they may use and distribute
privately or otherwise from 2010 to 2017 contrary to privacy and
confidentiality acts .

 

The Standards Commission does not hold any information about presently
elected councillors having supplied personal and confidential information
to council employees, which was obtained when the councillor  was
corresponding with members of the public. 

 

3.            How many complaints have you received in respect of this
practice from 2010 to 2017

 

The Standards Commission has not received any complaints in respect of
this practice.

 

4.            How many complaints relating to North Lanarkshire
Councillors disadvantaging disabled and vulnerable persons by sharing
their confidential information and others means they saw fit from 2008 to
2017

 

As stated previously the Standards Commission is an adjudicatory authority
and not a complaints investigation organisation.   The Standards
Commission has not received any complaints in respect of this practice.

 

5.            How many exemptions from abiding by the laws of privacy and
confidentiality do North Lanarkshire Councillors hold

 

The Standards Commission does not hold this information. 

 

6.            Does your office recognise the supreme courts authority in
respect of the level of privacy and confidentiality expected of those in
local government authorities and officials as in the HMRC ingenious media
case

 

The Standards Commission as an organisation recognises the rule of law and
the authority of the Courts to interpret and adjudicate on legal matters. 
As far as the Standards Commission’s remit is concerned, councillors in
North Lanarkshire Council are expected to comply with the Councillors'
Code of Conduct in the performance of their role as a councillor.

 

7.            Are said  Councillors in North Lanarkshire Council  expected
to abide by such or can they hand our confidential information to
employees and members of the public as they see fit and thereafter for
them to distribute as is there want.

 

Councillors must abide by the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.   The Code
contains the following two provisions relating to confidentiality:

 

3.14 Council proceedings and printed material are generally open to the
public.

This should be the basis on which you normally work, but there may be
times when

you will be required to treat discussions, documents or other information
relating to

the Council in a confidential manner, in which case you must observe such

requirements for confidentiality.

 

3.15 You will often receive information of a private nature which is not
yet public or

which perhaps would not be intended to be public. There are provisions in
legislation

on the categories of confidential and exempt information and you must
always

respect and comply with the requirement to keep such information private.

Legislation gives you certain rights to obtain information not otherwise
available to

the public and you are entitled to exercise these rights where the
information is

necessary to carry out Council duties. Such information is, however, for
your

individual use as a councillor and must not be disclosed or in any way
used for

personal or party political advantage or in such a way as to discredit the
Council.

This will also apply in instances where you hold the personal view that
such

information should be publicly available.

 

The Councillors’ Code of Conduct is available on the Standards
Commission’s website at
[1]http://www.standardscommissionscotland.o...

 

If you wish to make a complaint about a breach of the Councillors’ Code of
Conduct by a named councillor or councillors, you should contact the
CESPLS at
[2]http://www.publicstandardscommissioner.o...

 

If you are dissatisfied with the way I dealt with your request for
information you are entitled to ask for a review of my decision.  This
should be submitted within 40 working days of receipt of this letter with
an explanation of why you are unhappy with my response.  Your request for
a review of should be sent to:

Miss Lorna Johnston

Executive Director

Standards Commission for Scotland

T2.21, Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh

EH99 1SP. 

[3][email address]

 

If, following receipt of the response to your request for a review, you
remain unhappy with the decision you can submit an appeal to the:

Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC)

Kinburn Castle,

Doubledykes Road,

St Andrews Fife,

KY16 9DS

Alternatively you can submit an appeal directly through the SIC’s website
using this link [4]www.itspublicknowledge.info/Appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Mrs Elaine McLean

 

Business Manager

Standards Commission for Scotland

Room T2.21

The Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh

EH99 1SP

 

Tel: 0131 348 6666

DD: 0131 348 6665

[5]www.standardscommissionscotland.org.uk

 

 

INTEGRITY  IN  PUBLIC  LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

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