"Other travel" LGO White

mark price made this Freedom of Information request to The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

Thank you for your recent reponses. However, you have never answered my request of 08 December. Here is a slightly revised re-request.

Was it possible for Mr White to claim for foreign travel?

Was it possible that the Commission would ever pay directly for foreign travel for Mr White?

Please list precisely what types of "travel" could have been claimed for by Mr White as "other travel".

Please list precisely what types of "travel" could have been paid for directly by the Commission for Mr White and classified as "other travel", other than train tickets.

Yours sincerely,

mark price

Yours faithfully,

mark price

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Price

I did answer your email of 8 December on 11 January - I am resending my response.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's offfice | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |
|

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Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

By submitting so many related but slightly different FOI request you are making it easy for them to evade answering some of your questions. Note how they refer to another request whilst failing to answer the main point in this reworded one.

When a public authority give you the run around they are hiding something. Remember the MPs expenses and how government departments gave FOI requesters the run around until the truth was eventually leaked by the press.

mark price left an annotation ()

Thank you for your comments. Yes. This realization had dawned on me in the last few days!!

mark price left an annotation ()

Hello Mr Nunn.

I have been a bit perplexed by your annotation above, of 27 January.

You said "When a public authority give you the run around they are hiding something." Quelle surprise!! I have no idea at all why you felt it necessary to tell me this. I doubt that anybody has ever made an FOI request without already knowing, or suspecting, that there is something to hide! Knowing the kind of responses given via the LGOs' usual channels, and the level of disregard for others, and the incompetence exhibited, I decided to use FOI requests, hoping for a more measured attitude.

You said "By submitting so many related but slightly different FOI request you are making it easy for them to evade answering some of your questions." I'm afraid that you've missed the point. The kind of response I got initially was of no great significance to me. It is the things that are omitted from answers, and which requests are rejected, and the manner of it, that can be the most revealing. In other words, there is method in my madness, and by submitting "so many related but slightly different FOI requests" I ascertained the lie of the land and the ground rules being used. And it worked. But as I said above, unfortunately I have been surprised at how Ms Pook believes that it is appropriate and acceptable to respond to FOI requests with an orchestrated and calculated (apparently) combination of omissions, confusion, obfuscation, delay, general incompetence, arithmetical incompetence, avoidance, misunderstandings, misreadings and batching of requests (which can be done, but doesn't have to be done). Not to mention always taking twenty working days even though the Act demands a "prompt" response. In the end, I was forced to realize that the starting point here appears to not be freedom of information but a game of cat and mouse to avoid giving information. The last response in particular demonstrated the extent of that (why you thought I couldn't see which of my own questions weren't answered I don't know). It is noticeable that Ms Pook, rather than dealing with FOI requests at an objective distance, personalises it as if it's some kind of war. Naively, I was surprised at this type of Public body in particular exhibiting this kind of attitude to legal requirements. However, as "they" say, these things often start from the top, where I have found that the culture is one of not being answerable to anybody about anything, even though it's all Public money.

And, of course, I wanted the questions that need to be asked to be there on the record for others to see and pursue, if they wish.

Also please refer to my request for an internal review (submitted 5 February) to see why I had to revise my requests.

You said "Remember the MPs expenses and how government departments gave FOI requesters the run around until the truth was eventually leaked by the press". As far as I recollect, there was no "leak" by the Press. The truth was revealed by the Telegraph after a lot of dogged and long-winded FOI work that, significantly, involved a lot of paid for requests.

Best wishes with your stuff. Keep blogging!

Kind regards,

Mark

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Hi Mark

They were general comments for everyone to read, they weren't aimed at you. There are many people who don't know the tricks the LGO get up to and I wanted to let them know.

It was only when a whistle blower (John Wick) sent the Telegraph a disc full of the information that FOI requesters were seeking that the government gave up their fight to stop the informations getting into the public domain. Up to then FOI responses about MP's expenses were heavily redacted.

mark price left an annotation ()

Hi Trevor,

Thanks for your comments. And yes, you were right about the MPs' whistleblower, of course. (I veered off at a tangent when you said leaked "by" the Press rather than "to" the Press. Sorry about that!).

mark price left an annotation ()

£16,799 was what the taxpayer was billed in 06/07 for unexplained travel by Jerry White.