Payments to Carter Ruc k

The request was partially successful.

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Under the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the following information:

1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th 2011.

2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or incurred.

3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It has been reported that the senior John Yates employed Carter Ruck to threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

I look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible or at the latest within 20 working days. If it is quicker to respond to this request in several batches, please do send me the relevant information as soon as you find it.

Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Wilson

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011070001746
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 12/07/2011. I note you seek
access to the following information:

Under the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the following
information:

1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan
Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th
2011.
2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.
3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided
by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It
has been reported that the senior John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act). You will receive a response within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to
the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third
party. In some circumstances the MPS may be unable to achieve this
deadline. If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please email
or contact me on telephone number 020 7230 2003 quoting the reference
number above.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Beaumont
SCD Information Manager
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.

Ask to have the decision looked at again ***

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 700

The Metropolitan Police Service is here for London - on the streets and in
your community, working with you to make our city safer.

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system. To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law. Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents. The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Wilson

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011070001746

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 12/07/2011. I note you seek
access to the following information:

* Under the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the following
information:
* 1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the
Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005
to July 12th 2011.
* 2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were
made or incurred.
* 3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services
provided by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John
Yates/ (It has been reported that the senior John Yates employed
Carter Ruck to threaten media outlets following criticism of his
handling of the investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

* I look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible or at the
latest within 20 working days. If it is quicker to respond to this
request in several batches, please do send me the relevant information
as soon as you find it. Many thanks for your assistance with this
matter.

I am sorry to inform you that we have not been able to complete our
response to your request by the date originally stated, as our office has
just relocated to new office premises. This has had an impact on our
normal daily business and as a result we will not be able to respond
within 20 working days.

I can now advise you that the proposed amended date for a response is 23rd
August 2011 Your patience is greatly appreciated.

May I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

If you are dissatisfied with this response please read the attached paper
entitled Complaint Rights which explains how to make a complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me on 02072305206 or at the address at the top of this letter,
quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Bunker
Information Manager
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.

Ask to have the decision looked at again ***

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 700

The Metropolitan Police Service is here for London - on the streets and in
your community, working with you to make our city safer.

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system. To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law. Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents. The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Wilson

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011070001746

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 12/07/2011. I note you seek
access to the following information:

** Under the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the
following information:
1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan
Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th
2011.
2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.
3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided
by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It
has been reported that the senior John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

I look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible or at the
latest within 20 working days. If it is quicker to respond to this request
in several batches, please do send me the relevant information as soon as
you find it. Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

EXTENT OF SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION

To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted
at the Department for Legal Services and Financial Services.

RESULT OF SEARCHES

The searches located records relevant to your request.

DECISION
I have today decided to disclose some of the located information to you.
Other information located in records for financial year 2005/6 will be
exempt under the act as it is personal information relevant to a third
party. An explanation of the exemption is given below.

Regarding question 1 & 2.
Having located and considered the relevant information, I am afraid that I
am not required by statute to release the information requested. This
letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Act.

REASONS FOR DECISION
Section 17 of the Act provides:

"(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information,
is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in part II relating
to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim
that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying
with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-

(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption
applies."

Section 40 (2) & (3) - Personal Information: Absolute Exemption/Class
Based
Under Section 40(2) and (3) of the Act, Public Authorities are able to
withhold information where its release would identify any living
individual and breach the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998
(DPA). I have applied this exemption in that personal data which is held,
would, if released, breach their right to privacy under the DPA.

The eight principles of the DPA govern the way in which data controllers
must manage personal data. Under principle one of the DPA, personal data
must be processed fairly and lawfully. I believe the information held is
their personal data. I do not believe that any member of the public would
reasonably expect the MPS to release this information to the general
public. In view of this, I consider that the release of this information
would be unfair.

In reaching my decision, I have given due regard to Condition one and six
of Schedule 2 of the DPA. Condition one of the DPA requires that
consideration is given to whether consent for disclosure has been given
whilst Condition six requires that consideration is given to whether
disclosure would constitute legitimate processing of that data. In view of
the fact that no consent is present to release this information and that
release would be unexpected and consequently unfair, I consider that the
release of this personal information would be unjust.

I would stress that in addition to considering the position of the data
subject(s) above I have also taken into account our duty to be transparent
and accountable.

This exemption is both absolute and class based. When this exemption is
applied, it is accepted that harm would result from disclosure. There is
accordingly no requirement to consider whether release of information is
in the public interest or demonstrate what harm would result from
disclosure.

Regarding question 3.

We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police Authority authorised funding
in order that the MPS could seek legal advice from Carter Ruck following
an article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Assistant Commissioner
John Yates.

The MPA can approve expenditure on legal advice under strict criteria,
subject to limits on the amount to be disbursed, for cases which have the
potential to bring the organisation as a whole into disrepute.

This notice concludes your request for information. I would like to take
this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the MPS.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
or contact Margaret Bunker on telephone number 02071616511 quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Bunker
Information Manager
In complying with their statutory duty under sections 1 and 11 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release the enclosed information, the
Metropolitan Police Service will not breach the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988. However, the rights of the copyright owner of the
enclosed information will continue to be protected by law. Applications
for the copyright owner's written permission to reproduce any part of the
attached information should be addressed to MPS Directorate of Legal
Services, 1st Floor (Victoria Block), New Scotland Yard, Victoria, London,
SW1H 0BG.
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.

Ask to have the decision looked at again ***

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 700

The Metropolitan Police Service is here for London - on the streets and in
your community, working with you to make our city safer.

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system. To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law. Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents. The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Matt Kane left an annotation ()

I'd definitely seek an internal review here. Their application of a section 40 exemption here seems very tenuous, particularly in the case of question 1. It's hard to see how details of payments to a lawyer constitute personal information. It's not as if you're asking for details of the legal advice itself. It might be worth asking if they can provide a response, but with any personal information redacted.

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)'s handling of my FOI request 'Payments to Carter Ruc k'.

The MPS have admitted paying Carter Ruck to make legal threats to the media over criticism of a senior police officer, John Yates, but refuse to disclose the sums involved, claiming this is "personal" information.

It is hard to see how details of payments to a lawyer constitute personal information. Nowhere in my request did I ask for the legal advice itself. I would therefore ask that this response by reviewed with a view to providing a fuller response with any personal information redacted.

Furthermore, if the MPS continues to insist that this information really is "personal", then this would seem to constitute an admission that the Police are in the business of funding personal and private legal disputes with public money. At a time when questions are already being asked about the efficiency of the Met Police and its use of public funds, such an admission would seem likely to raise yet more controversy.

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

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson left an annotation ()

Thanks Matt - very good idea - I've requested a review and incorporated your suggestions

Matt Kane left an annotation ()

Looks good. I'll be very interested to see the response.

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Wilson,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011080004076

I write in connection with your letter dated 24 August 2011 requesting
that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) review its response to your
request for information relating to:

* Original FOI case number 2011070001746 .

The review will be conducted in accordance with the MPS complaints
procedure. The MPS endeavour to respond to your complaint by 22 September
2011.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.

Thank you for your interest in the MPS.

Yours sincerely

S. Strong
FOIA Complaints Officer

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.

Ask to have the decision looked at again ***

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 700

The Metropolitan Police Service is here for London - on the streets and in
your community, working with you to make our city safer.

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system. To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law. Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents. The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Atul left an annotation ()

Just read your FOI request thread wondering if it would be worth sending a FOI request to Carter Ruck ? You may get different and swifter response?

Richard Wilson left an annotation ()

Thanks Atul - unfortunately FOI is only applicable to public bodies as far as I am aware. I did see some move to apply it to other entities contracted by a public body to do work on its behalf which I guess might work in this case but I don't think that's yet become law.

Mr Jackson left an annotation ()

Just to add she stated:

" I do not believe that any member of the public would
reasonably expect the MPS to release this information to the general
public. In view of this, I consider that the release of this information
would be unfair."

However, the use of public funds to pay solicitors whilst defending personal reputations is of public interest and members of the public do expect to know where their tax money is going.

Richard Wilson left an annotation ()

Very good point - somewhat disturbing that they would be so far out of touch with how the public views this kind of activity that they would think that no-one would expect this kind of thing to be made public...

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear  Mr Wilson,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011080004076

Further to our letter of 9 September 2011, I have unfortunately been
unable to meet the response time originally provided to you in relation
to:

* Original FOI case number 2011070001746

I hope to complete your review no later than 20 October 2011. Should there
be any unforeseen delay, I will contact you and update you as soon as
possible.

I apologise for the delay, and thank you for your patience.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.

Thank you for your interest in the MPS.

Yours sincerely

S. Strong
FOIA Complaints Officer

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again ***

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

 

The Metropolitan Police Service is here for London - on the streets and in
your community, working with you to make our city safer.

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

I'm surprised at this further delay and will be complaining to the Information Commission about the Met's lack of co-operation if you do not disclose the information I have requested by the end of today.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Dear S strong,

I am writing to record a complaint about the Metropolitan Police's handling of this information request.

Several weeks ago the Met formally refused to reveal how much taxpayer's money you had given to the law firm Carter Ruck to help fund John Yates' threats against the media over criticism of his handling of the phonehacking scandal. I also asked for all details of all payments made by you to Carter Ruck since 2005.

The Met claimed, falsely, that complying with my request would violate the Data Protection Act. The Met also claimed, bizarrely, that "I do not believe that any member of the public would reasonably expect the MPS to release this information to the general
public" - a claim that, to be blunt, suggests a worrying disconnect from the concerns of the general public about the use of public funds.

It was clear at the time that these claims lacked credibility and would not be sustainable - in the end you would have to reveal the information. But the Met also appeared to be doing everything it could to drag the process out for as long as possible. Your proposal on Friday to delay for yet another month the "internal review" of this FOI request was just the latest example.

Today it is being reported that details of the John Yates legal fees have been revealed in full to the Independent newspaper - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/hom...

While this u-turn is welcome it also confirms as wholly spurious the Met's insistence that disclosing the information would violate the Data Protection Act.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in its handling of this affair the Metropolitan Police has been motivated more by a desire to avoid embarrassment than to comply promptly and fairly with the law on Freedom of Information.

Now that the Metropolitan Police has admitted, through its actions, that the Data Protection Act does not in fact prevent disclosure of the payments made to Carter Ruck in the John Yates libel case, there can be no good reason to delay further the release of the other information I have requested. Will you therefore please now give me, at your earliest convenience:

1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th 2011.
2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or incurred.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear  Mr Wilson,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011080004076

Further to our letter of 23 September 2011, I have unfortunately been
unable to meet the response time provided to you in relation to:

* Original FOI case number 2011070001746

I hope to complete your review no later than 2 November 2011. Should there
be any unforeseen delay, I will contact you and update you as soon as
possible.

I apologise for the delay, and thank you for your patience.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.

Thank you for your interest in the MPS.

Yours sincerely

S. Strong
FOIA Complaints Officer

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Dear S Strong,

You've neither acknowledged nor responded to my formal complaint of 26th September. Please can you:

a) Explain the reason for this long delay
b) Explain who is dealing with my complaint, and when I can expect an answer
c) Pass this message on to your line manager?

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

William left an annotation ()

Keep at it! The longer this goes on the more you prove your point....just dont lose heart.

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear  Mr Wilson,

* Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011080004076

* Internal Review case number 2011080004076

In regards to your email dated 21 October in which you state and seek the
following information:

* You state I have not acknowledged or responded to your formal
complaint of 26 September 2011.
* You seek an explanation for the reason for the delay to your review
* You wish to know who is dealing with your complaint
* You wish to know when you can expect an answer
* You ask that your email is passed to my line manager

I do apologise for not having formally acknowledged your follow up email
(dated 26/9/11) to your FOI complaint dated 24/8/11. I can confirm that
your follow up email was received and is being handled within the remit of
complaint case number 2011080004076.

It is regretful your internal review (pertinent to original case number
2011080004076) has exceeded 20 working days and I do apologise for the
inconvenience caused. I am working to ensure an accurate and robust
response can be provided to you as soon as possible, which has led to a
delay. As explained within my email dated 21 October 2011, I hope to
complete your review no later than 2 November 2011.

I can confirm that I am dealing with the complaint in respect of original
case number 2011080004076.

As requested within your email, I have referred your email (dated 21
October 2011) to my line manager, who will contact you in due course.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

S. Strong
FOIA  Complaints Officer

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Dear S Strong,

I write with regard to FOI Case Number 2011070001746 (see also http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/pa....

1. The Metropolitan Police has been using public money to make payments to the controversial (and very expensive) libel law firm Carter Ruck. On July 12th 2011 I sent in a Freedom of Information request asking for details of these payments to be made public.

2. On August 8th, the Metropolitan Police stated that they would be unable to respond to this FOI request within the 20 working days required by law because "our office has just relocated to new office premises".

3. On August 24th the Met formally declined to release any information about the money it's been paying to Carter Ruck, claiming, bizarrely, that to reveal anything at all about its financial dealings in this area would violate the Data Protection Act. I asked for a review of this refusal.

3. On 9th September the Met stated that it would "endeavour to respond" by September 22nd.

4. On 23rd September the Met stated that it would "hope to complete [the] review" no later than October 20th.

5. On October 21st the Met stated that it would "hope to complete [the] review" no later than November 2nd.

It is now November 3rd, and nearly five months since the Metropolitan Police was first asked to release this information. This time around I have heard nothing back from you at all.

The Metropolitan Police's decision to drag this process out for so long creates the appearance that it has something to hide, and raises serious questions about the force's willingness to be held accountable by the public for the way it is spending public money.

There appears to be no valid legal basis for this FOI refusal. It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Metropolitan Police is fully aware of this, but is choosing to withhold the information regardless.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Matt Kane left an annotation ()

I think it's worth complaining to the ICO about this. WHile there's no time limit given in legislation for internal reviews, the ICO gives the following guidelines: "the Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review" and "in no case should the total time taken exceed 40 working days". It's been well over that now.

Matt Kane left an annotation ()

S.Beeble left an annotation ()

Its unreal how long this has taken!

I was also under the impression that public authorities before spending public money and to put out to tender these sorts of deals!

I would be interested to know if there was any consultation that took place with other lawyers to ensure that they received the best value for money.

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Wilson,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011080004076

Further to our letter of 24 October 2011, I am now able to provide a
response to your complaint dated 24 August 2011 concerning:

Original FOI case number 2011070001746

Original Request (dated 12/7/11)
1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the
Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to
July 12th 2011.
     
2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.
     
3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided
by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It
has been reported that the senior John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

DECISION

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has completed its review and has
decided to:

* Vary the original decision

REASON FOR DECISION

I would first like to take this opportunity to apologise for the delay to
your internal review response and for any inconvenience caused.

The original response (dated 24/8/11) confirmed information for question
one and two had been located but could not be disclosed by virtue of
Section 40(2)&(3).

Regarding question three it was confirmed that the MPA authorised funding
in order that the MPS could seek legal advice from Carter Ruck following
an article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Assistant Commissioner
John Yates.

It was explained that the MPS can approve expenditure on legal advice
under strict criteria, subject to limits on the amount to be distributed,
for cases which have the potential to bring the organisation as a whole
into disrepute.

Your complaint appears to be specifically directed to the exempt
information in respect of the payment relating to the newspaper article.
However, in the interest of conducting a full and fresh review I have
reviewed all questions originally posed.

Question One and two
Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan Police
to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th 2011.
Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.

The MPS can confirm Carter Ruck was paid a total of £7,175 in respect of
legal advice provided to the MPS. This concerned a defamation claim
against the Guardian Newspaper relating to Assistant Commissioner John
Yates. One payment of  £1175 was made on 23/3/11 and  a second payment, of
£6000, was made on 1/4/11. No other payments made to Carter Ruck relate to
legal advice in respect of Mr Yates.

Additional information is held in respect of payments to Carter Ruck which
relate to a third party. Any details in regards to these payment details
remain exempt from disclosure by virtue of Section 40(2).

Section 40(2) (Personal Information)

Information you have requested contains personal information relating to
an individual(s). Personal data of any other person (third party data) is
exempt under section 40(2) if disclosure would breach one of the data
protection principles. In this case, the MPS is required to balance the
legitimate interests of the public in having access to the information you
have requested against the interests of the individual under the first
principle and, in particular, considering whether it is unfair to release
the information.

Section 40(2) sets out the exemption for someone else’s personal data
(third party data) provided one of the conditions in section 40(3) or
40(4) is met. These conditions require the MPS to refer back to the Data
Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The condition for the exemption to apply in
this case is that disclosure would breach one of the data protection
principles contained in Schedule 1 of the DPA. In dealing with information
that could comprise someone else’s personal data, the MPS has therefore
started with two broad questions:

1.        Is the information “personal data”?
2.        If so, will disclosure breach one of the data protection
principles?

Definition of Personal Data

I have determined that information held can be classed as personal data
relating to an individual(s). Section 40(7) of the FOIA confirms that the
relevant definition of personal is set out in section 1(1) of the DPA:

“personal data” means data which relate to a living individual who can be
identified—
(a) from those data, or
(b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of,
or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller, and
includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication
of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of
the individual.

The MPS finds the information you have requested to be personal data by
taking into account the two main elements of personal data are that the
information must “relate to” a living individual, and that individual must
be identifiable. Information will “relate to” an individual if it is:

* about them;
* linked to them;
* has some biographical significance for them;
* is used to inform decisions affecting them;
* has them as its main focus; or
* impacts on them in any way.

As the information requested will relate to a specific sum of money
provided to a third party in regards to a member of the public, it is
clear that the information will clearly be defined as personal data.

Breach of the Data Protection Principles

Section 40(2) together with the condition in section 40(3)(a)(i) or
40(3)(b) provides an absolute exemption if disclosure of the personal data
would breach any of the data protection principles.

Having reviewed the requested data I have decided that disclosure of this
information would breach the first principle of the Data Protection Act,
fair and lawful processing.  

The First Data Protection Principle

The first data protection principle states:
1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in
particular, shall not be processed unless—
(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and
(b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions
in Schedule 3 is also met.

Disclosure must therefore be fair, lawful and meet one of the relevant DPA
Schedule conditions. The MPS has therefore started by considering whether
the disclosure of the personal information is fair.

In particular, for disclosure to be fair and lawful it is necessary for
one of the conditions in Schedule 2 of the DPA to be applicable. The MPS
has considered whether a schedule 2 condition is met. In considering if it
is met, the MPS has considered whether the disclosure is lawful.

Fairness

Schedule 2 condition

The MPS considers Schedule 2, condition 1(consent) and condition 6
(legitimate interests) as relevant to disclosure under the Act.

Condition 6 (in Schedule 2) requires that:
6.—(1)The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests
pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom
the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any
particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or
legitimate interests of the data subject.

The MPS has approached condition 6 as a three part test:
1.        There must be a legitimate public interest in disclosure
2.        The disclosure must be necessary to meet that public interest;
and
3.        The disclosure must not cause unwarranted harm to the interests
of the individual

In conducting the above three part test, the MPS concludes for part one
and three there is not a legitimate public interest in disclosure of
personal information held in regards to a third party, and disclosure
would cause unwarranted harm to the interests of the individual(s)
concerned. Therefore in regards to part two of the test, the MPS find it
is not necessary to disclose the personal information in order to meet the
identified legitimate interests.

It is appreciated that there is a legitimate public interest in disclosing
financial information relating to the newspaper article, in the interests
of transparency. This disclosure achieves the aim of accountability and
addresses the public interest whilst interfering less with the privacy of
individuals. The MPS therefore considers that disclosure of any payments
unrelated to this matter is not necessary. Disclosure of payment details
relating to legal advice in regards to the article therefore legitimately
meets the public interest on this matter.

None of the conditions within Schedule 2 of the DPA apply in relation to
the information requested. Therefore the MPS find disclosure would be in
breach of the first Data Protection Principle.

In the context of disclosing the personal information contained within the
document under FOIA, the MPS have considered the possible consequences of
disclosure on the individual. It is believed that disclosing the personal
information under the Act would have an unjustified adverse effect on the
individuals concerned. In consideration that the information itself is
held in respect of a financial payment to a third party, disclosure of the
personal information is likely to cause further distress to individuals
connected with the subject.

In considering fairness in disclosure, the MPS has taken into account the
reasonable expectations of the individual whose information is held.
Whilst it is appreciated that there is an interest in payments made to
Carter Ruck in respect of third parties, there is no reasonable
expectation of interested parties personal information held to be
disclosed. Taking into account the personal information relates to
financial and legal matters, there is a strong expectation to withhold the
relevant information.

In considering the principle of fairness the MPS has balanced the rights
of the data subjects and the legitimate interests in disclosure. It could
be considered there is a public interest detailing all payments made to
Carter Ruck on any matter in the interests of openness. However,
disclosure under the Act is a disclosure to the ‘world’ and the MPS
conclude that the legitimate interest in disclosure does not outweigh the
rights of the data subjects on this financial and legal related matter. It
is also the case that the public interest in regards to the application of
Section 40 does not presume disclosure.

Lawfulness

The MPS concludes that the disclosure would be unfair, and so in breach of
the first principle. As such, I do not find disclosure of the personal
information held would be lawful. In reaching this decision, the
additional information cannot be disclosed under the Freedom of
Information Act.

Question Three
Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided by
Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It has
been reported that the senior(sic) John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phone-hacking by News of the World).
     
As explained within the original response, the MPA authorised funding in
order that the MPS could seek legal advice from Carter Ruck, following an
article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Assistant Commissioner John
Yates.

This authorisation was in line with the MPA’s power to approve expenditure
on legal advice for cases which have the potential to bring the
Organisation as a whole in disrepute. It is the case that the MPA can and
will take action to defend MPS officers if incorrect articles are written
which have the potential to bring the reputation of the Service into
disrepute.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

If you are dissatisfied with this response please read the attached paper
entitled Complaint Rights which explains how to contact the Information
Commissioner with your complaint.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me on 020 7161 3604 or at the address at the top of this letter,
quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

S. Strong
FOIA Complaints and Review Officer

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Richard Wilson left an annotation ()

Complaint sent to the Information Commission (correspondence italicised in the actual email):

BEGINS

NB: All details of this FOI request are online here: www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/payments_...

Dear Sir or Madam,

On 12th July I wrote to the Metropolitan Police Service with the following FOI request:

<i>Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Under the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the following
information:

1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the
Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st
2005 to July 12th 2011.

2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were
made or incurred.

3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services
provided by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer
John Yates/ (It has been reported that the senior John Yates
employed Carter Ruck to threaten media outlets following criticism
of his handling of the investigation into phonehacking by News of
the World).

I look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible or at
the latest within 20 working days. If it is quicker to respond to
this request in several batches, please do send me the relevant
information as soon as you find it.

Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Several weeks later, on August 24th 2011, the Met gave their response - formally refusing all but a fraction of the request:

Dear Mr Wilson

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011070001746

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 12/07/2011. I note you seek
access to the following information:

** Under the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the
following information:
1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan
Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th
2011.
2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.
3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided
by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It
has been reported that the senior John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

I look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible or at the
latest within 20 working days. If it is quicker to respond to this request
in several batches, please do send me the relevant information as soon as
you find it. Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

EXTENT OF SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION

To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted
at the Department for Legal Services and Financial Services.

RESULT OF SEARCHES

The searches located records relevant to your request.

DECISION
I have today decided to disclose some of the located information to you.
Other information located in records for financial year 2005/6 will be
exempt under the act as it is personal information relevant to a third
party. An explanation of the exemption is given below.

Regarding question 1 & 2.
Having located and considered the relevant information, I am afraid that I
am not required by statute to release the information requested. This
letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Act.

REASONS FOR DECISION
Section 17 of the Act provides:

"(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information,
is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in part II relating
to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim
that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying
with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-

(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption
applies."

Section 40 (2) & (3) - Personal Information: Absolute Exemption/Class
Based
Under Section 40(2) and (3) of the Act, Public Authorities are able to
withhold information where its release would identify any living
individual and breach the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998
(DPA). I have applied this exemption in that personal data which is held,
would, if released, breach their right to privacy under the DPA.

The eight principles of the DPA govern the way in which data controllers
must manage personal data. Under principle one of the DPA, personal data
must be processed fairly and lawfully. I believe the information held is
their personal data. I do not believe that any member of the public would
reasonably expect the MPS to release this information to the general
public. In view of this, I consider that the release of this information
would be unfair.

In reaching my decision, I have given due regard to Condition one and six
of Schedule 2 of the DPA. Condition one of the DPA requires that
consideration is given to whether consent for disclosure has been given
whilst Condition six requires that consideration is given to whether
disclosure would constitute legitimate processing of that data. In view of
the fact that no consent is present to release this information and that
release would be unexpected and consequently unfair, I consider that the
release of this personal information would be unjust.

I would stress that in addition to considering the position of the data
subject(s) above I have also taken into account our duty to be transparent
and accountable.

This exemption is both absolute and class based. When this exemption is
applied, it is accepted that harm would result from disclosure. There is
accordingly no requirement to consider whether release of information is
in the public interest or demonstrate what harm would result from
disclosure.

Regarding question 3.

We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police Authority authorised funding
in order that the MPS could seek legal advice from Carter Ruck following
an article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Assistant Commissioner
John Yates.

The MPA can approve expenditure on legal advice under strict criteria,
subject to limits on the amount to be disbursed, for cases which have the
potential to bring the organisation as a whole into disrepute.

This notice concludes your request for information. I would like to take
this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the MPS.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
or contact Margaret Bunker on telephone number 02071616511 quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Bunker
Information Manager

I was very disappointed with this response so I replied the same day, requesting an internal review:

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Metropolitan Police
Service (MPS)'s handling of my FOI request 'Payments to Carter Ruc
k'.

The MPS have admitted paying Carter Ruck to make legal threats to
the media over criticism of a senior police officer, John Yates,
but refuse to disclose the sums involved, claiming this is
"personal" information.

It is hard to see how details of payments to a lawyer constitute
personal information. Nowhere in my request did I ask for the legal
advice itself. I would therefore ask that this response by reviewed
with a view to providing a fuller response with any personal
information redacted.

Furthermore, if the MPS continues to insist that this information
really is "personal", then this would seem to constitute an
admission that the Police are in the business of funding personal
and private legal disputes with public money. At a time when
questions are already being asked about the efficiency of the Met
Police and its use of public funds, such an admission would seem
likely to raise yet more controversy.

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

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

A considerable amount of time then elapsed, during which someone called "S Strong" kept promising to complete their internal review by a particular date, then failing to do so and committing to a new date, which they would then also fail to keep to.

In September I discovered that some of the information which the Met were still refusing to disclose - claiming that to do so would violate the Data Protection Act - had been released by the Met to the Independent newspaper. On September 26th I sent the following complaint:

Dear S strong,

I am writing to record a complaint about the Metropolitan Police's
handling of this information request.

Several weeks ago the Met formally refused to reveal how much
taxpayer's money you had given to the law firm Carter Ruck to help
fund John Yates' threats against the media over criticism of his
handling of the phonehacking scandal. I also asked for all details
of all payments made by you to Carter Ruck since 2005.

The Met claimed, falsely, that complying with my request would
violate the Data Protection Act. The Met also claimed, bizarrely,
that "I do not believe that any member of the public would
reasonably expect the MPS to release this information to the
general public" - a claim that, to be blunt, suggests a worrying disconnect
from the concerns of the general public about the use of public
funds.

It was clear at the time that these claims lacked credibility and
would not be sustainable - in the end you would have to reveal the
information. But the Met also appeared to be doing everything it
could to drag the process out for as long as possible. Your
proposal on Friday to delay for yet another month the "internal
review" of this FOI request was just the latest example.

Today it is being reported that details of the John Yates legal
fees have been revealed in full to the Independent newspaper -
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/hom...

While this u-turn is welcome it also confirms as wholly spurious
the Met's insistence that disclosing the information would violate
the Data Protection Act.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in its handling of
this affair the Metropolitan Police has been motivated more by a
desire to avoid embarrassment than to comply promptly and fairly
with the law on Freedom of Information.

Now that the Metropolitan Police has admitted, through its actions,
that the Data Protection Act does not in fact prevent disclosure of
the payments made to Carter Ruck in the John Yates libel case,
there can be no good reason to delay further the release of the
other information I have requested. Will you therefore please now
give me, at your earliest convenience:

1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the
Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st
2005 to July 12th 2011.
2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were
made or incurred.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Wilson

Further exchanges followed by no more information was forthcoming until November 15th, when the Met gave their formal response to my internal review request:

Dear Mr Wilson,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011080004076

Further to our letter of 24 October 2011, I am now able to provide a
response to your complaint dated 24 August 2011 concerning:

Original FOI case number 2011070001746

Original Request (dated 12/7/11)
1. Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the
Metropolitan Police to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to
July 12th 2011.

2. Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.

3. Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided
by Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It
has been reported that the senior John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phonehacking by News of the World).

DECISION

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has completed its review and has
decided to:

* Vary the original decision

REASON FOR DECISION

I would first like to take this opportunity to apologise for the delay to
your internal review response and for any inconvenience caused.

The original response (dated 24/8/11) confirmed information for question
one and two had been located but could not be disclosed by virtue of
Section 40(2)&(3).

Regarding question three it was confirmed that the MPA authorised funding
in order that the MPS could seek legal advice from Carter Ruck following
an article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Assistant Commissioner
John Yates.

It was explained that the MPS can approve expenditure on legal advice
under strict criteria, subject to limits on the amount to be distributed,
for cases which have the potential to bring the organisation as a whole
into disrepute.

Your complaint appears to be specifically directed to the exempt
information in respect of the payment relating to the newspaper article.
However, in the interest of conducting a full and fresh review I have
reviewed all questions originally posed.

Question One and two
Details of all payments made and costs incurred by the Metropolitan Police
to the law firm Carter Ruck from January 1st 2005 to July 12th 2011.
Details of the services for which those payments and costs were made or
incurred.

The MPS can confirm Carter Ruck was paid a total of £7,175 in respect of
legal advice provided to the MPS. This concerned a defamation claim
against the Guardian Newspaper relating to Assistant Commissioner John
Yates. One payment of £1175 was made on 23/3/11 and a second payment, of
£6000, was made on 1/4/11. No other payments made to Carter Ruck relate to
legal advice in respect of Mr Yates.

Additional information is held in respect of payments to Carter Ruck which
relate to a third party. Any details in regards to these payment details
remain exempt from disclosure by virtue of Section 40(2).

Section 40(2) (Personal Information)

Information you have requested contains personal information relating to
an individual(s). Personal data of any other person (third party data) is
exempt under section 40(2) if disclosure would breach one of the data
protection principles. In this case, the MPS is required to balance the
legitimate interests of the public in having access to the information you
have requested against the interests of the individual under the first
principle and, in particular, considering whether it is unfair to release
the information.

Section 40(2) sets out the exemption for someone else’s personal data
(third party data) provided one of the conditions in section 40(3) or
40(4) is met. These conditions require the MPS to refer back to the Data
Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The condition for the exemption to apply in
this case is that disclosure would breach one of the data protection
principles contained in Schedule 1 of the DPA. In dealing with information
that could comprise someone else’s personal data, the MPS has therefore
started with two broad questions:

1. Is the information “personal data”?
2. If so, will disclosure breach one of the data protection
principles?

Definition of Personal Data

I have determined that information held can be classed as personal data
relating to an individual(s). Section 40(7) of the FOIA confirms that the
relevant definition of personal is set out in section 1(1) of the DPA:

“personal data” means data which relate to a living individual who can be
identified—
(a) from those data, or
(b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of,
or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller, and
includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication
of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of
the individual.

The MPS finds the information you have requested to be personal data by
taking into account the two main elements of personal data are that the
information must “relate to” a living individual, and that individual must
be identifiable. Information will “relate to” an individual if it is:

* about them;
* linked to them;
* has some biographical significance for them;
* is used to inform decisions affecting them;
* has them as its main focus; or
* impacts on them in any way.

As the information requested will relate to a specific sum of money
provided to a third party in regards to a member of the public, it is
clear that the information will clearly be defined as personal data.

Breach of the Data Protection Principles

Section 40(2) together with the condition in section 40(3)(a)(i) or
40(3)(b) provides an absolute exemption if disclosure of the personal data
would breach any of the data protection principles.

Having reviewed the requested data I have decided that disclosure of this
information would breach the first principle of the Data Protection Act,
fair and lawful processing.

The First Data Protection Principle

The first data protection principle states:
1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in
particular, shall not be processed unless—
(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and
(b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions
in Schedule 3 is also met.

Disclosure must therefore be fair, lawful and meet one of the relevant DPA
Schedule conditions. The MPS has therefore started by considering whether
the disclosure of the personal information is fair.

In particular, for disclosure to be fair and lawful it is necessary for
one of the conditions in Schedule 2 of the DPA to be applicable. The MPS
has considered whether a schedule 2 condition is met. In considering if it
is met, the MPS has considered whether the disclosure is lawful.

Fairness

Schedule 2 condition

The MPS considers Schedule 2, condition 1(consent) and condition 6
(legitimate interests) as relevant to disclosure under the Act.

Condition 6 (in Schedule 2) requires that:
6.—(1)The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests
pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom
the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any
particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or
legitimate interests of the data subject.

The MPS has approached condition 6 as a three part test:
1. There must be a legitimate public interest in disclosure
2. The disclosure must be necessary to meet that public interest;
and
3. The disclosure must not cause unwarranted harm to the interests
of the individual

In conducting the above three part test, the MPS concludes for part one
and three there is not a legitimate public interest in disclosure of
personal information held in regards to a third party, and disclosure
would cause unwarranted harm to the interests of the individual(s)
concerned. Therefore in regards to part two of the test, the MPS find it
is not necessary to disclose the personal information in order to meet the
identified legitimate interests.

It is appreciated that there is a legitimate public interest in disclosing
financial information relating to the newspaper article, in the interests
of transparency. This disclosure achieves the aim of accountability and
addresses the public interest whilst interfering less with the privacy of
individuals. The MPS therefore considers that disclosure of any payments
unrelated to this matter is not necessary. Disclosure of payment details
relating to legal advice in regards to the article therefore legitimately
meets the public interest on this matter.

None of the conditions within Schedule 2 of the DPA apply in relation to
the information requested. Therefore the MPS find disclosure would be in
breach of the first Data Protection Principle.

In the context of disclosing the personal information contained within the
document under FOIA, the MPS have considered the possible consequences of
disclosure on the individual. It is believed that disclosing the personal
information under the Act would have an unjustified adverse effect on the
individuals concerned. In consideration that the information itself is
held in respect of a financial payment to a third party, disclosure of the
personal information is likely to cause further distress to individuals
connected with the subject.

In considering fairness in disclosure, the MPS has taken into account the
reasonable expectations of the individual whose information is held.
Whilst it is appreciated that there is an interest in payments made to
Carter Ruck in respect of third parties, there is no reasonable
expectation of interested parties personal information held to be
disclosed. Taking into account the personal information relates to
financial and legal matters, there is a strong expectation to withhold the
relevant information.

In considering the principle of fairness the MPS has balanced the rights
of the data subjects and the legitimate interests in disclosure. It could
be considered there is a public interest detailing all payments made to
Carter Ruck on any matter in the interests of openness. However,
disclosure under the Act is a disclosure to the ‘world’ and the MPS
conclude that the legitimate interest in disclosure does not outweigh the
rights of the data subjects on this financial and legal related matter. It
is also the case that the public interest in regards to the application of
Section 40 does not presume disclosure.

Lawfulness

The MPS concludes that the disclosure would be unfair, and so in breach of
the first principle. As such, I do not find disclosure of the personal
information held would be lawful. In reaching this decision, the
additional information cannot be disclosed under the Freedom of
Information Act.

Question Three
Confirmation of whether or not the MPS paid for the services provided by
Carter Ruck in relation to the senior police officer John Yates/ (It has
been reported that the senior(sic) John Yates employed Carter Ruck to
threaten media outlets following criticism of his handling of the
investigation into phone-hacking by News of the World).

As explained within the original response, the MPA authorised funding in
order that the MPS could seek legal advice from Carter Ruck, following an
article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Assistant Commissioner John
Yates.

This authorisation was in line with the MPA’s power to approve expenditure
on legal advice for cases which have the potential to bring the
Organisation as a whole in disrepute. It is the case that the MPA can and
will take action to defend MPS officers if incorrect articles are written
which have the potential to bring the reputation of the Service into
disrepute.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

If you are dissatisfied with this response please read the attached paper
entitled Complaint Rights which explains how to contact the Information
Commissioner with your complaint.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me on 020 7161 3604 or at the address at the top of this letter,
quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

S. Strong
FOIA Complaints and Review Officer

Now that the Met's Internal Review has finally been completed, I am writing to ask the Information Commission to investigate their handling of the case and to ask for help in persuading them to comply with my original request.

Although they do now appear to have provided the information I requested regarding the Carter Ruck payments in the John Yates case, they appear to have refused my wider request for details of all payments made to Carter Ruck during 2005-2011.

They have specifically stated that: "Additional information is held in respect of payments to Carter Ruck which
relate to a third party. Any details in regards to these payment details remain exempt from disclosure by virtue of Section 40(2)."</i>

This seems to imply that in additional to paying for John Yates to threaten or sue his critics in the media, the Met may also have funded others to do the same thing. This is a matter of significant public interest given that a) There is a longstanding legal principle that public authorities are not supposed to sue individuals for libel b) The Met is overstretched at the best of times and public finances are now under more pressure than ever.

The Met's claim that revealing details of all payments to Carter Ruck would violate the Data Protection Act seems patently false. If there are, indeed, legitimate DPA concerns then it must surely be possible to redact identifiable personal details while nonetheless disclosing the sums of money involved.

I would greatly appreciate your help in resolving this matter.

Best wishes,

Richard Wilson

ENDS

S Harris left an annotation ()

Is there any update on this?

James Williams left an annotation ()

I'll definitly be interested in seeing the results of this. Is there anyone in the MET that you can complain to about the money being used in this way?

Richard Wilson left an annotation ()

no updates yet... ICO are pretty snowed because of the volume of spurious FOI refusals that need to be investigated - will update if and when there is some progress. As to who you can complain to, the London Assembly have a role in holding the Met to account, also the mayor's office. I had a helpful response from a number of assembly members when I raised it so definitely worth a try.

S Harris left an annotation ()

Any further update on this? Please don't let it rest. The more they try to hide, the more there is to find.

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