PASC meetings

Jt Oakley made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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 Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please supply the minutes if these meetings

· Bernard Jenkin, Chair of PASC, quarterly meetings on 10 October
and 27 November.

·

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Can't wait to read them

D. Speers left an annotation ()

If "default" employed will we ever get them?

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

By email
Ms Janet [first name redacted] Oakley

8 January 2014

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Your information request (FDN-179876)

Further to your email of 7 December 2012, I am writing in response to your information request. In your email, you asked for the minutes of meetings which took place between the Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, and Bernard Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC).

We have carefully considered your request and have concluded that the information you have requested is exempt under section 36(2)(b) and (c) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Section 36(2)(b) applies to information which ‘would, or would be likely to, inhibit – (i) the free and frank provision of advice, or (ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation’. Section 36(2)(c) relates to information whose release ‘would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs’. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance about the exemption at section 36 is available online at: www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/library...

We have concluded that this exemption applies in relation to your request because the release of discussions between the Ombudsman and the Chairs of Parliamentary Committees such as PASC, so soon after meetings have taken place, would likely produce a ‘chilling effect’ on future discussions about live issues (as described in the ICO guidance).

While we recognise the public interest in disclosure of these documents in line with principles of openness and transparency to which PHSO is highly committed, we feel that, in this case, this is outweighed by the potential detrimental effect which disclosure would have on the Ombudsman’s ability to effectively carry out her function. As it stands, while the issues discussed are still live and ongoing, we have concluded that the information you have requested is exempt.

I hope that this explanation is helpful. If you are unhappy with my decision not to give you all the information you requested, you can ask for a review by writing to: [email address]

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the ICO to look into your case. Their contact details are available on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Aimee Gasston
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

A ‘chilling effect’?

I would think that if Bernard Jenkin has been reading the evidence from complainants and the your own Public and Commercial Services Union ....it will take nothing short of a surprise solar flare to thaw it out.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit...

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'PASC meetings'.

Here is the section...

(b) inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views; or
(c) otherwise prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.  Other than for statistical information, s36 requires the
authority’s ‘qualified person’ to give their ‘reasonable opinion’ that disclosure would or would be likely to cause the types of prejudice or inhibition listed above.
 It is a qualified exemption, other than for information held by Parliament. This means that even if the exemption applies, the public authority must still disclose the information unless the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
 It should always be possible for a public authority to carry out an internal review, at least to reconsider the public interest

Section 36 states is a qualified exemption.

It therefore has a strong public interest determination.

Who is this Qualified person?

And what exactly is the qualification that allows them to give a response on a question of public interest?

Surely a 'chilling effect ' a predictive subjective judgement - and not based in any factual evidence. So that statement can be discounted.

There is also a conflict of interest. Dame Julie Mellor was appointed by chairman Bernard Jenkin's committee appointment. So it is certainly arguable that in this case that therefore the public interest would be served by knowing the content of any subsequent discussions - since Bernard Jenkin represents the public in his role - and not the Ombudsman's office.

Particularly those who were invited to give their evidence to PASC

And surely all meetings would be helpful and cordial? So why would the release of these minutes lead to The Ombudsman being unable to perform her duties?

In the light of the union's comments on the PASC, and numerous complaints about service of the PHSO is also arguable that some form assurance is due to the public in that the the Ombudsman is being made aware of this rising tide of criticism - since her evidence to PASC and union comments indicates that she is either totally unaware of the problems - or denying that they exist.

Therefore, as it stands, this Section 36 argument is therefore not compulsive.

And should be reviewed.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

D. Speers left an annotation ()

"Section 36 states is a qualified exemption.

It therefore has a strong public interest determination."

SPOT ON Jt Oakley- Thank you for sharing this!

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

RESTRICTED

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

I am writing in response to your email of 9 January 2014. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request entitled 'PASC meetings'.

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to the Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve Brown.

Mr Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review that we will undertake.

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

Yours sincerely

Tanya Jackson
Business Support Officer to the Review Team Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

.....Here comes another Steve Brown pro forma response....

I just wish he'd vary it a bit occasionally to make it more exciting.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

I would put money on it, if only someone would be silly enough to take it, I could make my fortune!!!!!!!

Dear Complaintsphso,

Please only reply via this website on all FoI requests.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley,

 

My apologies that I have been unable to provide you with the outcome of my
review into your information request by the due date. I am waiting on the
outcome of some enquiries that I have put in hand at which point I will be
able to provide the outcome of my review to you. I hope to be able to do
so as soon as possible – I will provide you with a further update if I
cannot provide you with the outcome of my review by Friday 21 March.

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[2]fb  [3]twitter  [4]linkedin

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
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http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
3. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Dear Brown Steve,

Thank you.

That is fine - if it is receiving genuine consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

May I refer you to this decision made yesterday.

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JC...

Please see judgement on 'chilling effect v public interest.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Aaah. A considered response at last. Perhaps they are finally going to try and stop hiding things. And lets be honest - that's exactly what they have been doing. Open and transparent - not at all. Take those words off your website PHSO!! A VERY well written request JT Oakley. I would definitely challenge it if he denies you. I now highlight all my refusal's to the Freedom of Information Campaign.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The ombudsman is supposed to be independent and neutral, yet she has meetings with the politician who appointed her.

It should be known whether or not there is any undue political influence on her. It's in the public interest for the PHSO to act with candour and be open and transparent to demonstrate the fact, or not.

....Also if there was political influence in the past, during MP/Ombudsman meetings, when the PHSO refused to investigate the Morecambe Bay and Mid Staffs deaths - on the grounds that they would be a an embarrassment to the government of the day,

D. Speers left an annotation ()

PHSO seems to be using "discretionary powers" for deny and defend and NOT for benefit of public!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO has not stated who the 'qualified person is'. And this nay be the reason for the delay.

Anyone following this should be aware of this:

'What are the practical consequences of this? Well, if you’re an FOI Officer make sure you know who your qualified person is. I’ve seen responses where the authority clearly didn’t understand this and because of that the exemption is invalid. In the event of an appeal to the Information Commissioner, one of the first things he’ll check is whether the decision was taken by the right person, and he may ask for evidence that the person concerned is the qualified person for that public body. For requesters, it’s worth checking if the person who made the decision was the “qualified” one for the same reason. An authority that doesn’t understand this provision is probably failing to understand other basic requirements of the Act'.

http://www.foiman.com/archives/1035

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

^^^^^^

Aimee Gaston seems to be representing herself, along with the mysterious 'we' as the 'qualified person' in her answer.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

The ombudsman is supposed to be independent and neutral, yet she has meetings with the politician who appointed her.

And fails to provide the public with the minutes of the meeting with this politician! I think we should ask Bernard what he is hiding. I'm going to Tweet him.

Dear Brown Steve,

To be absolutely clear, I am asking for the name of the qualified person who made this Section 36 Decision, their name and when they were appointed.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Dear Brown Steve,

My apologies that I have been unable to provide you with the outcome of my
review into your information request by the due date. I am waiting on the
outcome of some enquiries that I have put in hand at which point I will be
able to provide the outcome of my review to you. I hope to be able to do
so as soon as possible – I will provide you with a further update if I
cannot provide you with the outcome of my review by Friday 21
March.

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

:::::::::

It's now later than late.

You did not bother to provide an update.

Over to the ICO on those grounds.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Complaint to the ICO

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p... reference:

PASC meetings

Please use in any correspondence.

1. Did you want to access information about you?

Is your complaint purely about accessing information that contains your name, or other information so that people would know it is about you?

No. All the information I have requested is official information from a public authority.

2. Who do you want to complain about?

This will usually be an organisation. Please give us the details of the person you have been in contact with.

Organisation: The Parliamentary Health and Services Ombudsman
Contact name: Steve Brown
Address:
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London

Postcode:SW1P 4QP
Telephone:
Customer Helpline
Tel: 0345 015 4033

Email:mailto:phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk
Website:http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/con...

3. Your relationship with the organisation
Please tell us the nature of your relationship with the organisation, for example client, patient, customer etc.

Member of the public

4. Details of the problem
Please select the option that best describes what you want to complain about. You may tick more than one box.

- Did not reply in the time.

- Did not provide an update,as stated, even when given an extension.

- The PHSO appears to have made a Section 36 decision, without stating who the qualified person is to do so.

- And not applying or referencing the Decision stated.

5. When did you ask the organisation for the information?

- December 7, 2013

See website

- https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

6. When did the organisation respond?

- Several times but did not complete review.

7. Reference number FDN-179876

8. Supporting documents
You must send us any relevant documents to support your complaint including unedited copies of:

As above on WDTK website

9. Complainant contact details
Person with the complaint
Please give us the details of the person with the complaint (the complainant).
Title:Ms
First name: J

Last name:T Oakley
Address:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
Postcode:
Daytime telephone:
Email: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

10. Declaration
Please read the following statements and tell us you agree with them by ticking the box at the end.
•I have included all the necessary documents to support my complaint. See website I understand that this is ok....tick
•I understand that during any necessary investigations, the ICO
may need to share the details I have provided so they can investigate. I have indicated any supporting documents that I do not want the ICO to share.
tick

•The information I have provided in this complaint is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.tick
•I understand that the ICO will scan and electronically store any documents relating to my complaint, will destroy original hard copy documents after six months, and keep the electronic records for up to two years after the complaint is concluded or more if it is appropriate.tick
I have read and agree to this declaration.
JT Oakley

11. Sending your complaint to us
By email

1.Fill in this form and save it to your computer.
2.Open a new email, with ‘Accessing information complaint form’ in the subject line.
3.If you have all your supporting documents electronically, please attach them to your email.

4.Email the completed form to us at casework@ico.org.uk

By post​
If you have only paper copies of any of your supporting documents, please print this form and post it with all your supporting documents to:
First Contact
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

::::::;

Additional documents and the reason for referring the matter to the ICO.

Fully explained on the website.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

There is a public interest in knowing what the Ombudsman ..who is supposed to be entirely independent of government, is saying during meetings with the head if PASC, who appointed her, and is currently holding an 'independent' investigation into the PHSO.

The ICO should note that these meetings are taking place after the Ombudsman failed to investigate complaints about both the Mid Staffs and Morecambe Bay Health Boards, leading to more deaths.

Under the circumstances the public need to be reassured that the government is not directing the ombudsman in what cases she should investigate - or those that should not be investigated.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

JT Oakley seems to be making breakthroughs

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I won't hold my breath.

Twin souls...Separated at birth..the PHSO and the ICO.

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

I fully acknowledge that I am late in providing you with an outcome to your request for a review. My apologies that this is the case. Where s.36 Freedom of Information Act has been applied to a request for information (as in this case) the available ICO guidance is, that in the case of a request for a review, the decision to apply s.36 needs to be revisited by the original decision maker (in this case the Ombudsman) to see if it remains valid given 'the passage of time', or any other change in circumstances. That is the enquiry that I have put in hand and when that has been completed I will be in a position to provide you with a response to your request for a review.

Steve Brown
Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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Dear Brown Steve,

Are you stating that The Ombudsman is the 'qualified person' or not?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley,

I am saying that the decision maker in respect of your request (i.e. to apply s.36 Freedom of Information Act) was the Ombudsman and she is reviewing her decision in line with ICO guidance on the application of s.36.

Steve Brown
Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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show quoted sections

Dear Brown Steve,

Thanks.

But I have asked you who was the 'qualified person, who evaluated the request and decided to keep the meeting secret under Section 36.

Since you stated that the Ombudsman was reviewing the decision, presumably she is the qualified person - because you have not mentioned the name of anyone else.

So I am - once again - asking for a clarification as to who this qualified person was, who made the decision on the request above.

It will be of use for all previous - and future - requestors to know that the PHSO has a named qualified person who made/ will make this sort of decision re Section 36.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

He is saying that the decision maker in regards to your request was the Ombudsman - and she is reviewing her decision. Two things. He seems to be saying that there is more than one decision maker, i.e. The decision maker on YOUR request. In a meeting with the PHSO, they were keen to point out that although Dame Julie is the CHAIR of this organisation(something they point out a few times in previous FOI requests) -The Ombudsman, per say, is a SERVICE.So when Steve keeps saying The Ombudsman, can we have an actual name please? They maintain that keeping these minutes from us would inhibit the Ombudsman(?) from effectively doing her job? I think we are way past that .

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

'While we recognise the public interest in disclosure of these documents in line with principles of openness and transparency to which PHSO is highly committed, we feel that, in this case, this is outweighed by the potential detrimental effect which disclosure would have on the Ombudsman’s ability to effectively carry out her function'

::::::::

Her function is to be totally independent of political control.

So the Ombudsman, as the qualified person, decides the public cannot know of her meetings with a government representative because she would no longer be able to carry out her duties if they did.

So what does that say about the relationship between the Ombudsman and the government?

It would seem, logically, that the fear is that this much-vaunted 'independence' will be exposed as being anything but.

Dear Brown Steve,

I would like to read the dated form that the qualified person signed - before you were able to respond to my request.

https://mail-attachment.googleuserconten...

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I have now read the exchanges which led to Dame Julie Mellor signing off the request as the qualified person .So there us no need to respond further.

But I would like to ask if the 'qualified person' is technically able to oversee requests regarding herself. What are the rules in this!

The records also how that Dame Julie Mellor and Bernard Jenkin have had a series of 'private meetings'.

Why is it necessary for these 'private' meetings to take place and why is it necessary for the PHSO to know about them and to note them if they are private?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Also, as the date was changed from the published one for the above meetings, I request information on any rescheduled meetings.

It is not the date in which I am interested, it is the content of the meetings.

Dear Brown Steve,

Also, as the date was changed from the published one for the above meetings, I request information on any rescheduled meetings.

It is not the date in which I am interested, it is the content of the meetings.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Dear Brown Steve,

As far as I can ascertain, a Section 36 has to be evaluated by the qualified person as to a public interest determination.

In this case, the qualified person - if she was logged as being so - was emailed on holiday - to beat the deadline and stated:

I agree with the recommendations for the reasons given, particularly the chilling effect on open effective dialogue and that the information might become public later when this would not be an issue.

Where is the weighing up of public interest determination in her response?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

E. Colville left an annotation ()

In line with "normal business practices" minutes of other PHSO meetings which relate to issues that are still live and ongoing are routinely published: -
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Even parliamentary committees publish discussion notes and formal minutes. Where reservations are needed, there's provision for that:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit...
http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit...
http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commo... and

PHSO's response implies that formal minutes in relation to routine meetings between the Chair of the PASC and the Ombudsman are not subject to "normal business practices". Why is that? Is it right and proper?

Looks like the 'qualified person' has thrown in a red-herring with the statement the information "might become public later".

If there was genuine intent, PHSO could have engaged, but didn't engage, a s.22 ("future publications") exemption :-
http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

Presumably, therefore, the qualified person and entourage of advisers know that there's no good faith intention of disclosing the minutes any time soon.

Inevitably, the secret nature of these meetings undermines the Ombudsman's alleged independence.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Quite so Elaine.

Either the Ombudsman us part of the government, or she strands outside it.

....Independent. And not swayed by political manipulation.

And why all the private meetings with Bernard Jenkin? Is there something going on that must be kept secret from the records that might, or might not, be divulged?

Because it's a certainty that private meeting will never be.

Dear Brown Steve,

7. The qualified person is not chosen by the authority itself. Section 36(5) explains what is meant by the ‘qualified person’. Subsections (a) to (n) define who the qualified person is for a number of specific authorities. This list has been amended since the Act was first passed, as public authorities have changed, and so public authorities should consult the latest version. The version of the Freedom of Information Act at www.legislation.gov.uk is regularly updated.

The section 36 Decision was made by Dame Julie Mellor, head of the PHSO.

Is she the qualified person to do so since:

1. She should not be chosen by the authority ( as above).

2. Can she make a judgement since she was involved in the PASC meetings?

http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

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show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
3. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Dear Brown Steve,

Thank you.

I'm sure Dame Julie Mellor has better things to consider but you have not answered my request as to when she became the qualified person, who appointed her, and why, having been appointed, she seems to use her qualification to evaluate requests about her PASC involvement.

Surely the qualified person should be at arms-length to any request?

FYI..

Dear Brown Steve,

7. The qualified person is not chosen by the authority itself.
Section 36(5) explains what is meant by the ‘qualified person’.
Subsections (a) to (n) define who the qualified person is for a
number of specific authorities. This list has been amended since
the Act was first passed, as public authorities have changed, and
so public authorities should consult the latest version. The
version of the Freedom of Information Act at www.legislation.gov.uk
is regularly updated.

The section 36 Decision was made by Dame Julie Mellor, head of the
PHSO.

Is she the qualified person to do so since:

1. She should not be chosen by the authority ( as above).

2. Can she make a judgement since she was involved in the PASC
meetings?

http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Dear Brown Steve,

Still waiting for you answer to whether or not Dame Julie Mellor the PHSO 's qualified person.

If she isn't, who is?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-188932)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 11 April 2014 to Steve Brown in
which you ask why and how Dame Julie is the ‘qualified person’ for the
purposes of the application of the exemption at section 36 of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

 

Section 36(o)(iii) FOIA states that the ‘qualified person’ is ‘any officer
or employee of the public authority who is authorised for the purposes of
this section by a Minister of the Crown’.  Currently, both the Ombudsman
and the Senior Information Risk Officer (SIRO) SIRO are qualified persons
for the purposes of s36 FOIA, as certified by the Cabinet Office Minister.

 

Further information about s36 FOIA is available on the Information
Commissioner’s Office website at the following link:
[1]http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

 

I hope that this information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][email address]

 

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show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...
2. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
5. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
6. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Dear foiofficer,

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for your explanation - but an FoI response requires file information.

Therefore could you please therefore respond with the dated letter (or file information) from the Minister of the Crown responsible conferring the qualification on the Ombudsman and the Senior Information Risk Officer.

And as a point of reference, can the qualified person judge her own behaviour? Surely the person, however competent, would be accused of exerting prejudice?

To maintain a fair and independent distance, shouldn't it have been the Senior Information Risk Officer. that signed off the Section 36 - as Dame Julie Mellor was involved in the meeting and on holiday at the time when she signed the Section, regarding her meetings.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Your information request (FDN-193212)

I write further to your request for a letter which certifies the Ombudsman and the Senior Information Risk Officer (SIRO) as qualified persons for the purposes of section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please find the relevant letter attached. As you can see, the SIRO was only appointed as an additional qualified person in April 2014. The SIRO could not therefore have taken a decision to apply s36 prior to this date.

We do not hold any recorded information in relation to whether 'the qualified person can judge her own behaviour'. You might want to redirect this part of your request to the Information Commissioner's Office, if it is not answered by reading the s36 guidance which is available on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

I hope that this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

There seems to be documentation missing.

Either Dame Julie Mellor signed off the PASC meetings ( referred to previously ) erroneously - as she was not the qualified person at the time of signing - or there will be a letter in your files stating that she was the qualified person before this time.

Because clearly, if she was not the qualified person, then her application of the Section is inapplicable to the request.

Please therefore provide the document confirming Dame Julie Mellor as the PHSO qualified person which pre-dates her meetings with PASC chairman Bernard Jenkin, during the time that the committee was investigating the PHSO.

Or state that as there was a mistake in allowing a non-qualified person to sign off this request, the information should therefore be forthcoming.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

In addition, my understanding was that this request was turned down to prevent a 'chilling effect' on the business of government conducted by the PHSO and PASC in a 'Safe space ' before the publication of PASC's report on the PHSO - Time for a people's Ombudsman Service - published on April 2.

Since the report is now freely available to the public, there is now a justification in public interest terms on learning how the business of government was conducted between the PHSO and PASC, pre this publication, since there will be no further meetings on this topic and therefore there cannot be a 'chilling effect' on them.

In addition, since PASC cannot direct the independent Ombudsman, and therefore the robustness of her Decisions cannot be compromised, there is a public interest in knowing the exact working relationship between PASC and the PHSO pre PASC's report.

I would therefore draw your attention to a Decision made by the ICO in that the ICO recognises that applying a public interest determination is valuable in allowing the public to have a greater understanding of how government operates and that the 'chilling effect' is more applicable to ongoing discussions, not those which have taken place on a specific topic and thus of a shorter nature.

......The term ‘chilling effect’ refers to an adverse effect on the frankness and candour of participants in the policy making process. Arguments about ‘safe space’ are related to chilling effect arguments but distinct, as the need for a safe space within which to debate policy exists regardless of any chilling effect that may result through disclosure. The basis of safe space arguments is that an erosion of the safe space for policy making would have a detrimental impact on the quality of the policy making process. In short, safe space arguments are related more to ongoing policy discussions and the chilling effect relates to the likely candour of future discussions...

Reference: FS50358982

So now that it has been published, I would ask you to reconsider whether or not the requested documents can be provided.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-193826)

 

I am writing further to your email of 12 June 2014, in which you made a
request

 

The letter which we previously released to you in response to your
information ‘confirmed’ the Ombudsman as the qualified person for the
purposes of s36, and also appointed a further qualified person (the Senior
Information Risk Officer). 

 

Previously, the Executive Board, of which the Ombudsman was head, acted as
a group of ‘qualified persons’.  This information is available in the
public domain at the following link:

[1]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u...

 

I have included the excerpts relevant to PHSO below:

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|The Health Service Commissioner for England |Executive Board |
|-------------------------------------------------+----------------------|
|The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration|Executive Board |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

We no longer hold any recorded information in relation to the appointment
of the Executive Board as ‘qualified persons’, but I hope that this
information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][email address]

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #188308 email]]
Sent: 12 June 2014 10:32
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - PASC meetings

 

Dear foiofficer,

There seems to be documentation missing.

Either Dame Julie Mellor  signed off the PASC meetings ( referred to
previously )  erroneously - as she was not the qualified person at the
time of signing -  or there will be a letter in your files  stating that
she was the qualified person before this time.

Because clearly, if she was not the qualified person, then her application
of the Section is inapplicable to the request.

Please therefore provide the document confirming Dame Julie Mellor as the
PHSO qualified person which pre-dates her meetings  with PASC chairman
Bernard Jenkin, during the time that the committee was investigating the
PHSO.

Or state that as there was a mistake in allowing a non-qualified person to
sign off this request, the information should therefore be forthcoming.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Here is the answer. The PHSO has stated up a new thread elsewhere for some reason,. So I have moved the answer here, for clarity......

From: foiofficer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

9 July 2014

Dear Ms Treharne Oakley

Your information request (FDN-193826)

I am writing further to your email of 12 June 2014, in which you made a
request

The letter which we previously released to you in response to your
information ‘confirmed’ the Ombudsman as the qualified person for the
purposes of s36, and also appointed a further qualified person (the Senior
Information Risk Officer).

Previously, the Executive Board, of which the Ombudsman was head, acted as
a group of ‘qualified persons’. This information is available in the
public domain at the following link:

[1]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u...

I have included the excerpts relevant to PHSO below:

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|The Health Service Commissioner for England |Executive Board |
|-------------------------------------------------+----------------------|
|The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration|Executive Board |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

We no longer hold any recorded information in relation to the appointment
of the Executive Board as ‘qualified persons’, but I hope that this
information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][email address]

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #188308 email]]
Sent: 12 June 2014 10:32
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - PASC meetings

Dear foiofficer,

There seems to be documentation missing.

Either Dame Julie Mellor signed off the PASC meetings ( referred to
previously ) erroneously - as she was not the qualified person at the
time of signing - or there will be a letter in your files stating that
she was the qualified person before this time.

Because clearly, if she was not the qualified person, then her application
of the Section is inapplicable to the request.

Please therefore provide the document confirming Dame Julie Mellor as the
PHSO qualified person which pre-dates her meetings with PASC chairman
Bernard Jenkin, during the time that the committee was investigating the
PHSO.

Or state that as there was a mistake in allowing a non-qualified person to
sign off this request, the information should therefore be forthcoming.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

Please note. That was not a new request - I was asking for a clarification as to the basis on which Dame Julie Mellor signed off a Section 36 on the request.

And if she had the necessary authority to do so at the time if signing.

I also note that at the time that the PHSO applied the section to my request, it was the 'Executive Board' that had the responsibility of making the Decision and not 'The Ombudsman', who was appointed in April.

Therefore I would presume that the application of section 36 on request was erroneous and that it makes the response invalid, as it was not the 'Executive Board' that made the Decision.

Please confirm or deny in your review.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

 

Thank you for your email requesting an Internal Review, which has been
passed to the Review Team.

 

As parts of the last email I sent did not display properly, I have pasted
it again below and attached a table.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][email address]

 

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-193826)

 

I am writing further to your email of 12 June 2014, in which you made a
request for recorded information further to the letter which we provided
to you as part of your last request.

 

The letter which we previously released to you in response to your
information ‘confirmed’ the Ombudsman as the qualified person for the
purposes of s36, and also appointed a further qualified person (the Senior
Information Risk Officer). 

 

Previously, the Executive Board, of which the Ombudsman was head, acted as
a group of ‘qualified persons’.  This information is available in the
public domain at the following link:

[3]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u...

 

I have included the excerpts relevant to PHSO in the attached table.

 

We no longer hold any recorded information in relation to the appointment
of the Executive Board as ‘qualified persons’, but I hope that this
information is helpful.

 

I hope that this information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [4]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [5][email address]

 

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #188308 email]]
Sent: 09 July 2014 10:03
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - PASC meetings

 

Dear foiofficer,

Please note. That was not a new request - I was asking for a clarification
as to the basis on which Dame Julie Mellor signed off a Section 36 on the
request.

And if she had the necessary authority to do so at the time if signing.

I also note that at the time that the PHSO applied the section to my
request, it was the 'Executive Board'  that had the responsibility of
making the Decision and not 'The Ombudsman', who was appointed in April.

Therefore I would presume that the application of section 36 on request
was erroneous and that it makes the response invalid, as it was not the
'Executive Board' that made the Decision.

Please confirm or  deny in your review.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

 

We are writing in response to your email of 9 July 2014. We are sorry that
you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request
entitled ‘PASC meetings’.

 

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to
our Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve
Brown.

 

Mr Steve Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply
once his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only
review that we will undertake. 

 

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Review Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #188308 email]]
Sent: 09 July 2014 10:03
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - PASC meetings

 

Dear foiofficer,

Please note. That was not a new request - I was asking for a clarification
as to the basis on which Dame Julie Mellor signed off a Section 36 on the
request.

And if she had the necessary authority to do so at the time if signing.

I also note that at the time that the PHSO applied the section to my
request, it was the 'Executive Board'  that had the responsibility of
making the Decision and not 'The Ombudsman', who was appointed in April.

Therefore I would presume that the application of section 36 on request
was erroneous and that it makes the response invalid, as it was not the
'Executive Board' that made the Decision.

Please confirm or  deny in your review.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear [first name redacted] Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-193831)

 

I am writing further to your email of 12 June 2014, in which you ask
whether we are now able to release the note of a meeting which took place
on 17 October 2013 between Dame Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman, and Bernard Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration
Select Committee.  As you are aware, previously we withheld this
information as it engaged section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (FOIA), the exemption for information whose release could prejudice
the effective conduct of public affairs.

 

In your email, you argue that this note should now be released because, as
PASC have now produced their report, Time for a People’s Ombudsman’s
Service, the issues discussed at that meeting must have been resolved and
can no longer be considered ‘live’.  However, this is not the case, and
many of the issues referred to in the meeting note are still ongoing.

 

After consideration, we have concluded that the note you have asked for is
still exempt in line with section 36. S36(2)(b) applies to information
which ‘would, or would be likely to, inhibit – (i) the free and frank
provision of advice, or (ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the
purposes of deliberation’.  Section 36(2)(c) relates to information whose
release ‘would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to
prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs’.  We have concluded
that both of these subsections apply to the note you have asked for and
that the balance of public interest still weighs in favour of withholding
the information in question.  This is because many of the issues discussed
in the note are still in development and because the public interest lies
in protecting the safe space necessary to conduct an effective
relationship between PHSO and PASC.

 

I hope that this information is helpful.  If you are unhappy with my
decision not to give you all the information you requested, you can ask
for a review by email to: complaints[1][email address]

 

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the Information
Commissioner’s Office to look into your case.  Their contact details are
available on their website at: [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI/DP Officer

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you but I am asking if the Ombudsman was the qualified person at the time that she signed off the request.

As the request was made pre-February 14, when she was appointed a qualified person by The Right Hon Francis Maude MP.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Della left an annotation ()

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Tweeting this.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The law states that the qualified person cannot be sought after the review has been conducted.

Since the PHSO did not conduct the review on time and the ICO refused to do anything about that either, I will be writing to the ICO asking why the Decision was to let the qualified person. 'Revisit' my request .

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

After writing to the ICO ..including the request chain link..

I am still none the wiser don't know whether or not Dame Julie Mellor was the qualified person last December, when she made the decision.

Or whether or not a decision made - can be remade.

I am asking ..since the ICO must know who qualified persons were in any specific date, since it has to make it's decisions on the basis of knowing who the qualified persons are, was this decision made correctly?

This is the response:

::::

8th August 2014

Case Reference Number IRQ0548263

Dear Mrs Treharne Oakley

Request for Information

Further to our acknowledgement of 17 July 2014 we can now respond to your request for information dated 15 July.

As you know we have dealt with your request in accordance with your ‘right to know’ under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which entitles you to be provided with a copy of any information ‘held’ by a public authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.

Request

In your e-mail you refer to your concerns about the PHSO’s response and subsequent review of your information request to them, made via the ‘WhatDoTheyKnow?’ (WDTK) website about PASC meetings, details of which are available here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Further to your suggestion that “The PHSO states publically that it was on the advice if the ICO that the qualified person was allowed to revisit her decision on this request” you have specifically asked us “I would like to know who gave this ‘advice’ that the PHSO states was given to it.. and on what grounds. I would therefore like all correspondence that the ICO holds on this request”.

Information Held

Having carefully read all the exchanges between yourself and the PHSO relating to your request for ‘PASC meetings’, we have not been able to find any that make any reference to direct contact between the PHSO and the ICO about this particular issue.

The PHSO do mention a number of times having referred to the ICO’s published guidance on s36 of the FOIA (see their replies to you of 24 March (twice), 14 May and 12 June), and it appears the PHSO have relied on the advice contained in this guidance when dealing with your original request and subsequent review.

In an effort to locate any information within the scope of your request we have made enquiries with relevant ICO staff, but none of them have any record or recollection of having had any direct contact with any representative of the PHSO about the issues raised in your ‘PASC meetings’ request.

We therefore conclude that we do not hold the information you have asked for.

Query

You have also asked “I would like to know why the ICO did nothing about PHSO failing to complete the review in time and that, according to the law, a qualified person cannot ‘revisit’ a decision once it has been made”

Public authorities should have procedures in place for conducting a review of any decision to refuse an FOI request. The ICO will generally not accept a complaint for investigation unless the complainant has attempted to refer the complaint to internal review. Internal reviews are referred to in the section 45 Code of Practice, which is available from the Ministry of Justice website here.

Public authorities are expected to comply with the section 45 code of practice, however there is no legal requirement under FOIA to conduct an internal review. In the absence of any legal requirement the Commissioner cannot enforce an authority to complete an internal review in a specified timescale.

Whilst there is no statutory timescale, in the Commissioner’s view an internal review should take no longer than 20 working days. In exceptional circumstances it may be reasonable to take longer, but in no case should the total time to reply exceed 40 working days.

The section 45 Code advises that such reviews should be dealt with in accordance with the public authority’s own complaints procedure. Applicants can complain to the ICO about a public authority’s delay in completing the internal review procedure, which may result in the Commissioner issuing an adverse Practice Recommendation.

In accordance with s48 FOIA, the Commissioner may issue a Practice Recommendation when a PA has not conformed with the provisions of the FOI Codes of Practice or the EIR Code of Practice. Practice Recommendations are not legally enforceable, but are a way of encouraging good practice rather than addressing breaches of the legislation.

Poor practice may be brought to the attention of the Commissioner in various ways: as the result of an investigation into a complaint, from a request by the PA itself for good practice advice, or through a good practice assessment, audit or other monitoring of the public authority.

A Practice Recommendation is more likely to be issued when there is a pattern of non-conformity, or where previous informal advice has not been adopted, although it may be justified by a single incidence of very poor practice. In most cases any poor practice will be usually addressed in any decision notice in regard to the authority’s compliance with that request.

If you want to make a complaint to the ICO about the outcome of the PHSO’s review of your FOIA request we would suggest you do so via the ‘Reporting a concern’ section of our website here.

Review Procedure

If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how your request has been handled you should write to the Information Access Team at the address below or e-mail accessicoinformation@ico.org.uk.

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40 working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the Commissioner.

If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint handler under the legislation. To make such an application, please write to our Customer Contact Team at the address given or visit our website if you wish to make a complaint under either the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations.

A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website here.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann Lead Information Access Officer

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Lant Mark, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Mark Lant / Assistant Legal Adviser
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP

E: [1][email address]
[2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[3]fb  [4]twitter  [5]linkedin

 

 

P Before you print think about the ENVIRONMENT

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #188308 email]]
Sent: 09 July 2014 10:03
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - PASC meetings

 

Dear foiofficer,

Please note. That was not a new request - I was asking for a clarification
as to the basis on which Dame Julie Mellor signed off a Section 36 on the
request.

And if she had the necessary authority to do so at the time if signing.

I also note that at the time that the PHSO applied the section to my
request, it was the 'Executive Board'  that had the responsibility of
making the Decision and not 'The Ombudsman', who was appointed in April.

Therefore I would presume that the application of section 36 on request
was erroneous and that it makes the response invalid, as it was not the
'Executive Board' that made the Decision.

Please confirm or  deny in your review.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Dear Lant Mark,

Thank you - but this request has already been reviewed by Steve Brown...( see above) and has already gone to the ICO, with which I am in communication.
I can only assume that the ICO has not informed you of the fact, as your response adds nothing.

It is also on the thread, so I presume that you have no access to it.

However,I do not see your point in the PHSO wasting valuable public money by reviewing the ICO referred request - yet again.

My understanding is that you - personally, don't normally reply to requests so you may not be aware that I have asked several times that the PHSO use my WDTK title references, rather than making up your own un- linked internal references on information..... that should of been readily available on my request.

Other authorities manage to reference requestor's titles ......stick to the request, give help and assistance ( Section 16 ) and treat requestors with respect.

I have asked the PHSO to do this on a number of occasions - without success - and it is most discourteous of the PHSO to continue to do so.

.......Once again, I have no access to your private filing system - and your internal references simply do not match my entitled WDTK requests. This only leads to confusion, especially when the PHSO continues to review requests after they have been referred to the ICO.

I can only assume that you are attempting to make me a vexatious requestor by these persistent and discourteous tactics.

Please note therefore, that I do not require yet another review.

Or indeed any response on this request.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

For the absence if doubt, this is my formal complaint about this request to the ICO...made on March 21.2014.

:::::::

I would like to know why the ICO did nothing about the PHSO failing to complete the review in time and that, according to the law, a qualified person cannot 'revisit' a decision once it has been made.

The PHSO states publically that it was on the advice if the ICO that the qualified person was allowed to revisit her decision on this request.

That either means that the ombudsman was not the qualified person at the time of her Decision, or having made it, could not 'revisit ' it just because if the time element meant that the PHSO took in not providing a review in the statutory period.

I would therefore like to know who gave this 'advice' that the PHSO states was given to it.. and on what grounds. I would therefore like all correspondence that the ICO holds on this request.

And an explanation, as to why the ICO seems to have advised the PHSO that the Ombudsman could 'revisit' her decision when she is seemingly precluded from doing so.

The request can be seen on this website:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

J tO

Begin forwarded message:

From: J tO
Date: 21 March 2014 20:24:19 GMT
To: "casework@ico.org.uk" <casework@ico.org.uk>
Subject: PASC meetings /WDTK

Webdirect
Access information complaint form

You should complete this form if you have asked an organisation for information about you or official information, and the organisation has not responded or has told you it won’t provide the information.
If the above doesn’t apply, call our helpline.
This form should take about 10 minutes to complete.Once you have completed it, save this PDF, attach it to an email and send it to casework@ico.org.uk.
Because most people submit their own complaints, where we ask about ‘you’, we mean the person with the complaint (the complainant).

:::::

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p... reference:

PASC meetings

Please use in any correspondence.

1. Did you want to access information about you?
Is your complaint purely about accessing information that contains your name, or other information so that people would know it is about you?

No. All the information I have requested is official information from a public authority.

2. Who do you want to complain about?
This will usually be an organisation. Please give us the details of the person you have been in contact with.
Organisation: The Parliamentary Health and Services Ombudsman
Contact name: Steve Brown
Address:
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London

Postcode:SW1P 4QP
Telephone:
Customer Helpline
Tel: 0345 015 4033

Email:mailto:phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk
Website:http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/con...

3. Your relationship with the organisation
Please tell us the nature of your relationship with the organisation, for example client, patient, customer etc.

Member of the public

4. Details of the problem
Please select the option that best describes what you want to complain about. You may tick more than one box.

- Did not reply in the time.
- Did not provide an update,as stated, even when given an extension.

- The PHSO appears to have made a Section 36 decision, without a qualified person to do so and not applying the decision stated.

5. When did you ask the organisation for the information?

- December 7, 2013

See website

- https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

6. When did the organisation respond?

- Several times but did not complete review.

7. Reference number FDN-179876

8. Supporting documents
You must send us any relevant documents to support your complaint including unedited copies of:

As above on WDTK website

9. Complainant contact details
Person with the complaint
Please give us the details of the person with the complaint (the complainant).
Title:Ms
First name: J

Last name:TO
Address:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
Postcode:
Daytime telephone:
Email: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

10. Declaration
Please read the following statements and tell us you agree with them by ticking the box at the end.
•I have included all the necessary documents to support my complaint. See website I understand that this is ok....tick
•I understand that during any necessary investigations, the ICO
may need to share the details I have provided so they can investigate. I have indicated any supporting documents that I do not want the ICO to share.
tick

•The information I have provided in this complaint is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.tick
•I understand that the ICO will scan and electronically store any documents relating to my complaint, will destroy original hard copy documents after six months, and keep the electronic records for up to two years after the complaint is concluded or more if it is appropriate.tick
I have read and agree to this declaration.
JT Oakley

11. Sending your complaint to us
By email

1.Fill in this form and save it to your computer.
2.Open a new email, with ‘Accessing information complaint form’ in the subject line.
3.If you have all your supporting documents electronically, please attach them to your email.

4.Email the completed form to us at casework@ico.org.uk

By post​
If you have only paper copies of any of your supporting documents, please print this form and post it with all your supporting documents to:
First Contact
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

::::::;

Additional documents and the reason for referring the matter to the ICO.

Fully explained on the website.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

There is a public interest in knowing what the Ombudsman ..who is supposed to be entirely independent of government, is saying during meetings with the head if PASC, who appointed her, and is currently holding an 'independent' investigation into the PHSO.

The ICO should note that these meetings are taking place after the Ombudsman failed to investigate complaints about both MidStaffs and Morecambe Bay Health Boards, leading to more deaths.

Under the circumstances the public need to be reassured that the government is not directing the ombudsman in what cases she should investigate - or those that should not be investigated.

::::::;

Additional documents and the reason for referring the matter to the ICO.

Fully explained on the website.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

There is a public interest in knowing what the Ombudsman ..who is supposed to be entirely independent of government, is saying during meetings with the head if PASC, who appointed her, and is currently holding an 'independent' investigation into the PHSO.

The ICO should note that these meetings are taking place after the Ombudsman failed to investigate complaints about both MidStaffs and Morecambe Bay Health Boards, leading to more deaths.

Under the circumstances the public need to be reassured that the government is not directing the ombudsman in what cases she should investigate - or those that should not be investigated.

::::::

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The ICO's response.

Dear Mrs Treharne Oakley

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’)
Information request made to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
Request reference: FDN-179876

Your reference: PASC meetings/WDTK
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Thank you for your correspondence of the 8 August 2014 in which you raise a number of concerns regarding the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman and the use of a s36 exemption under the FOIA.

You have stated in your complaint form that, “…it would seem that Dame Julie Mellor was not the qualified person, when she signed off this request. The file presented by the PHSO specifies the 'Executive Board ' - and not individual members of it. And if there had been an intention that the Ombudsman was to be the QP, surely the Ombudsman would have been stated as the QP and not the 'Executive board', who were presumably to discuss application of this Section as a board? In addition, the PHSO no longer had an Executive Board last December - at the time of signing. It had been disbanded and replaced with a Unitary Board. If Dame Julie Mellor wasn't the QP - I have asked the PHSO if the request decision was valid. That would seem reasonable, even if the Section had been correctly applied. But I have received no answer.

You have further stead in your complaint form that you have, “Asked the PHSO whether or not the 'QP's' decision was valid on the grounds above. I would still like to know whether Dame Julie Mellor was the qualified person at the time that she made the original Decision on January 7. Since the ICO's decisions are dependent on knowing who the qualified person is at any point in time, the ICO should be able to state whether she made a decision - as the qualified person”.

Furthermore in regard to advice from my colleague given on the 8 August 2014 under the case reference Number IRQ0548263 to submit a formal complaint about the PHSO's review of your request you responded, “I can't complain - unless I know the answer to my question. From this, I take it that you cannot tell from the correspondence on WDTK whether or not she was the QP or not. But then, neither can I. It would save a great deal of time and expenditure if, having already read the request, you could answer the question ....because the ICO should be able to check this easily...so I can proceed or not.”

Identifying the qualified person

Section 36 requires that, other than for statistical information, the qualified person for the public authority must give their reasonable opinion that the exemption is engaged. Therefore, in order to use section 36, public authorities must establish who their qualified person is.

The qualified person is not chosen by the authority itself. Section 36(5) explains what is meant by the ‘qualified person’. Subsections (a) to (n) of section 36(5) only specify the qualified person for a limited number of public authorities.

Most public authorities will fall under section 36(5)(o). For these authorities the qualified person is either a Minister of the Crown or a person authorised by a Minister of the Crown. A Minister may authorise the public authority itself or any officer or employee of the authority to be the qualified person.
Where the qualified person is the public authority itself rather than a specific post, this means the highest decision-making body within the authority.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman would fall under the under 36(5)(o) of the FOIA and the qualified person would therefore be the highest decision-making body within the authority. As Dame Julie Mellor was appointed as Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Health Service Commissioner for England (Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman) on 3 January 2012 then she would be the highest decision maker within the authority.

Furthermore the archived Department of Constitutional affairs guidance in regard to s36 of the FOIA available at; http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u... gives the qualified persons for The Health Service Commissioner for England and The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration as the Executive Board. As Dame Julie Mellor as Ombudsman is the Executive Chair (http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/who...) again indicates she is the highest decision-making body within the authority.

* Nb Only 'indicates'?

You have also stated, “The law states that the qualified person cannot be sought after the review has been conducted. Since the PHSO did not conduct the review on time and the ICO refused to do anything about that either, I will be writing to the ICO asking why the decision was to let the qualified person. 'Revisit' my request .

Internal reviews

The ICO expects public authorities to offer an internal review to applicants who are dissatisfied with a decision to withhold information which they have requested. Public authorities should have procedures in place for conducting a review of any decision to refuse an FOI request. The ICO will generally not accept a complaint for investigation unless the complainant has attempted to refer the complaint to internal review.

An internal review of the decision presents an opportunity for the authority to reconsider how it dealt with the request. In the case of section 36 we expect that the qualified person would take the opportunity to consider their reasonable opinion again, taking account of any comments from the complainant. Furthermore it should always be possible for the public authority to review the public interest arguments.

If section 36 has been applied and there have been flaws in the process leading to the opinion of the qualified person, the internal review provides an opportunity to correct them. For example: If the qualified person’s opinion was not given within 20 days, section 36 can still be engaged if the opinion is given before the completion of the internal review, even though there will have been a procedural breach of section 17(1).

Your complaint

From the information you have provided it in regard to your information request (FDN-179876) for the minutes of meetings which took place between the Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, and Bernard Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC).

The authority responded that the information requested was exempt under section 36(2)(b) and (c) of the FOIA and upheld the exemption in its internal review response of the 14 April 2014. However your complaint you have submitted appears to be solely in regard to the whether Dame Judie Mellor was the qualified person.

If you are dissatisfied with the response and would like us to look into the handling of this request further please let us know explaining the reasons why you are dissatisfied.

Should you have any specific concerns or if I can be of any further assistance please contact me on the number below or our Helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Downs - Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone: 0303 123 1113 ext 5332

___________________________________________________________________

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Perhaps someone else can explain:

Why was it necessary for Minister Francis Maude to mention BOTH The Ombudsman and Steve Brown in his letter of appointment in February 14, after Dame Julie Mellor ..as the QP, had made her decision?

Because surely there would have been a file on record where the Minister named Dame Julie Mellor as QP if a Minister needed to be involved in QP appointments?

And why was it necessary for a Minister to become involved at all.....if Dame Julie Mellor was already the 'highest authority' ?

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I think it's what's known as a 'cover up'

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Below: Here's the Decision.

Odd that the Cabinet office had to write naming two names as qualified persons -.AFTER the Decision was made.

You would think that Dame Julie Mellor 's appointment letter would already have been in existence .

Unfortunately , the Cabinet Office cannot seem to find any such previous letter amongst it's files.

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Wondered if the papers would be available! Thanks you for asking Jt......default setting seems still to be deny,defend.....sadly destroy is in there too!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

......And here's the Cabinet Office first denying that the Qualified Person request has been received at all..

( Thanks WDTK for your support in tracking that it had been received).

And then stating that they couldn't find the correspondence to the fairly recently appointed Ombudsman, as it was too much work.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

D. Speers left an annotation ()

A very important FOI request!
Thank you to WDTK also for your continued support.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Yes.. Thanks to WDTK for its support, so that a government office could not claim that the request was never received.....And therefore didn't have to answer in the statutory period.

WDTK now has added value in protecting requesters from creeping government 'file loss', other than just allowing requesters to make FOIA enquiries. Because correspondence is in the public domain. And it's a lot cheaper than paying £1.10 for a signed postal receipt.

As the PHSO is to compensate me for the appalling way that it handled my complaint (and heaven know when that will be because the external investigator recommended that it do so early last year) ..WDTK will be sent a donation from me.

As the site is proving invaluable, please help it. It's easy enough to make a small donation.

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

The PHSO wrote to J T Oakley in its response.

"As it stands, while the issues discussed are still live and ongoing, we have concluded that the information you have requested is exempt."

As PASC concludes its investigation THIS month, will the doors of transparency at the PHSO fling themselves wide and open to previous FOI requests on here?

This website;
I agree with all the above about the WDTK site. It is a unique and valuable asset and therefore requires as many financial donations as possible.

Can I add that the contributions made by the public to this site have been a valuable asset too.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Ladbrokes are rumoured to be quoting 100,000,000 -1 for the PHSO ever flinging open its 'transparency doors'.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

And another thing...

The ICO refers to the PHSO as 'the Trust'

11. The Trust has applied section 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) and section 36(2)(c) FOIA to the withheld information. The Commissioner has first considered the PHSO’s application of section 36(2)(b)(ii).

When did the PHSO become a Trust?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

High court ruling on ministers diaries:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol...

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