Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,

please disclose to me the content of the TRIM file POL/034/002/006/4 (Phorm Infraction) as identified in an earlier request (handled by Birgitte Charles) (*)

NB; The same file reference (..006/4) seems to have been used for both "Phorm Briefings/Submissions", and "Phorm Infraction" documents. This request is for the "Phorm Infraction" related documents.

Yours faithfully,

P. John

(*) https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Mr John,
Thank you for your information request of 27th November regarding the
contents of the TRIM file POL/034/002/006/4 (Phorm infraction) folder.
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act). We can confirm that DCMS holds information within the scope of
your request. However, we have determined that some of this information
may be exempt from release under section 36 (Conduct of Public affairs) of
the Act. This is a
qualified exemption and, as such, it is necessary to carry out a public
interest test to consider whether, in all the circumstances of the case,
the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public
interest in disclosing the information.
By virtue of section 10(3) of the Act, where public authorities have to
carry out a public interest test, they do not have to comply with the
request until such time as is reasonable in the circumstances. Due to the
need to consider where the balance of the public interest lies in relation
to the information that you have requested, the Department will not be
able to respond to your request immediately. However, we hope to let you
have a substantive response to your request by 26th January 2017.
Yours sincerely,
The FOI Team

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Mr John,

Further to our email of 28th December 2016, as outlined below, we write to
inform you that the Department has yet to conclude the public interest
test to determine whether the information you have requested should be
exempt from disclosure under section 35 (formulation of government policy)
and Section 36 (conduct of public affairs) of the FoI Act.

We apologise for this on-going delay and will write to you again as soon
as we can, though no later than 23rd February 2017.

Yours sincerely,

The FOI Team

show quoted sections

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Mr John,

Further to our email of 26th January, as outlined below, we write to
inform you that the Department has yet to conclude the public interest
test to determine whether the information you have requested should be
exempt from disclosure under Section 36 (conduct of public affairs) of the
FoI Act.

We apologise for this on-going delay and will write to you again as soon
as we can, though no later than 23rd March.

Yours sincerely,

The FOI Team

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Mr John,

Thank you for your information request dated 27^th November 2016. You
asked:

Please disclose to me the content of the TRIM file POL/034/002/006/4
(Phorm Infraction) as identified in an earlier request (handled by
Birgitte Charles) (*)

 

NB; The same file reference (..006/4) seems to have been used for both
“Phorm Briefings/Submissions”, and “Phorm infraction” documents. This
request is for the “Phorm infraction” documents. This request is for the
“Phorm Infraction” related documents.

 

We have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act). We consider the information you have requested to be exempt
under section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act because its disclosure
would, or would be likely to, prejudice the effective conduct of public
affairs.

Section 36 is a qualified exemption and I have considered whether the
balance of the public interest favours disclosing or withholding the
information.

In favour of disclosure of the information:

 

·       Open policy making may lead to increased trust and engagement
between citizens and government.

·       The desirability of citizens being confident that decisions are
taken on the basis of the best available information.

·       Knowledge that the arguments relating to a debate will be
disclosable will in fact improve the quality of those arguments. Far from
inhibiting the frank provision of advice, there might be circumstances
where the prospect of disclosure would enhance the quality of advice.

·       The response to new policy initiatives may improve, and government
generally may become “better”.

·       More open policy making can result in better policy formulation. A
wider range of views and opinions, including expert knowledge, may be
canvassed.

·       As knowledge of the way government works increases, public
contribution to the policy making process could become more effective and
broadly-based.

·       The substance of the information may relate closely to a matter of
public importance about which public debate could be informed by its
disclosure.

 

In favour of withholding the information:

 

·       Ministers and their officials need space in which to develop their
thinking and explore options in communications and discussions with other
ministers and officials.

·       There needs to be a free space in which it is possible to “think
the unthinkable” and use imagination, without the fear that policy
proposals will be held up to ridicule.

·       Ministers and their officials need to be able to think through all
the implications of particular options. In particular, they need to be
able to undertake rigorous and candid assessments of the risks to
particular programmes and projects.

·       Premature disclosure of preliminary thinking may end up closing
off better options because of adverse public reaction.

·       Disclosure of the process of interdepartmental consideration may
undermine the collective responsibility of the government.

·       The decision-making process may not be properly recorded so as to
avoid creating information which is disclosable.

·       Appropriate expert advice is not sought because of the reluctance
of those who might supply it to engage in a debate where their
contribution might be disclosable.

 

Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, We have concluded
the balance of the public interest favours withholding this information.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom of Information Team

 

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

4th floor, 100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

[1]www.gov.uk/dcms

 

 

Complaints and comments

As is customary in our replies, I would like to explain that if you are
dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for
information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from
you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of
this email to:  [2][email address]

 

You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to
investigate any aspect of your complaint. Please note that the ICO is
likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted
before beginning an investigation.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/dcms
2. mailto:[email address]

Dear FOI Mailbox,

thank you for your latest refusal. I was hoping the extended delay might herald a dramatic change in your disposition toward freedom of information, and a move away from the long running cover up & systemic corruption that has characterised the entire Phorm affair... and all public record of it.

I was amused by the claim that civil servants need space to “think the unthinkable” in relation to Phorm. And your fear that your policy proposals will be held up to ridicule.

I think I can agree with some of your reasoning. You can be certain the Phorm scam was and should remain unthinkable (being entirely unlawful)... And your rejection of FoIA requests in relation to Phorm is somewhere far beyond ridicule.

Yours sincerely,

P. John

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

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