Report of the Panel of Inquiry into the death of Lucy Gates 1982

Cathy Fox made this Freedom of Information request to Bexley Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Bexley Borough Council,

Please could you send me a copy of the Report of the Panel of
Inquiry into the death of Lucy Gates 1982 commissioned/ authored by
the London Borough of Bexley and Bexley Health Authority July 1982
Please could you tell me who owns the copyright?

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

Lorraine King, Bexley Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 8
September 2014 concerning Please could you send me a copy of the Report of
the Panel of Inquiry into the death of Lucy Gates 1982 commissioned/
authored by the London Borough of Bexley and Bexley Health Authority July
1982

Please could you tell me who owns the copyright?
 
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and we aim to send a response by 6 October 2014 (which is 20 working days
beginning on the first working day after the date we received your
request).
 
In some cases, a fee may be payable. If we decide a fee is payable, we
will send you a fee notice and we will require you to pay the fee before
proceeding with your request.
 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 may restrict the release of some or
all of the information you have requested. We will carry out an assessment
and if any exemptions apply to some or all of the information then we
might not provide that information to you. We will inform you if this is
the case and advise you of your rights to request an internal review and
to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
 
We will also advise you if we cannot provide you with the information
requested for any other reason together with the reason(s) why and details
of how you may appeal (if appropriate).
 
Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Support Officer
London Borough of Bexley Civic Offices 2 Watling Street Bexleyheath Kent
DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Dear Lorraine King,

Could I clarify I would like both documents

Lucy Gates; London Borough of Bexley and Greenwich and Bexley Health
Authority Published 1982
Chairman's report
Report of other Panel Members

Many Thanks

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Lorraine King, Bexley Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Can you please provide the date of birth for Lucy Gates.
 
Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Support Officer
London Borough of Bexley Civic Offices 2 Watling Street Bexleyheath Kent
DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Dear Lorraine King,

Thanks for your reply. I am unsure of the date of birth of Lucie Gates, but if you are having problems with initial searches it may be because I think I misspelled her name. I think it should be Lucie Gates.
However there are numerous references to the report eg http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fYBz-...

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Lorraine King, Bexley Borough Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear ‎Ms Fox‏
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 8 September 2014.
 
 Please find attached our response to your request.
  

Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Dear Lorraine King,

Thank you for your reply.
Under S16 Duty to Provide advice and assistance.
Which does this reply refer to; the Chairmans report or the Report of the other panel members?
In claiming S 41 whilst you do not apply the public interest test, was the public interest considered? The law of confidence recognises that a breach of confidence may not be actionable when there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. Please could you publish that consideration of the public interest test.
Please could you tell me why it is not possible to redact these confidences?
Please could you give some idea of the nature of the body whose confidence you claim will be broken, and if possible who or what it is. What kind of legal entity? Is it an individual, corporation etc
Please can you state what kind of evidence you have that there will be a breach of confidence?

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

King, Lorraine, Bexley Borough Council

Dear Ms Fox

Thank you for your email dated 7th October 2014.

Our reply responds to your request to have a copy of the Report of the Panel of Inquiry into the death of Lucy Gates 1982.

I can confirm that when citing Section 41, although the public interest test does not apply for Section 41, we did in fact consider this. We do consider a report that is 32 years old would not be in the public interest to disclose. We also consider that the report contains personal and sensitive information regarding the family and could cause distress to the living relatives of Lucy Gates.

It is not possible to redact these references as the report is over 700 pages long.

Kind regards

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer

Bexley Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath Kent DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

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Dear Lorraine,
Thank you for your reply. I asked several questions under s16. I would be grateful for an answer to those not answered and to the additional queries.

1. Which does this reply refer to; the Chairmans report or the Report
of the other panel members?
Not answered

2. In claiming S 41 whilst you do not apply the public interest test,
was the public interest considered? The law of confidence
recognises that a breach of confidence may not be actionable when
there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. Please could
you publish that consideration of the public interest test.

You answered
"I can confirm that when citing Section 41, although the public interest test does not apply for Section 41, we did in fact consider this. We do consider a report that is 32 years old would not be in the public interest to disclose. We also consider that the report contains personal and sensitive information regarding the family and could cause distress to the living relatives of Lucy Gates."

There is nothing intrinsic in the age of a report that means it would not be in the public interest, so what is it about the age that you find is objectionable to being disclosed?
As regard the personal and sensitive information, have you contacted the family to check that the information will cause distress?

Please could you tell me why it is not possible to redact these
confidences?
You answered "It is not possible to redact these references as the report is over 700 pages long. "

Please could you give some idea of the nature of the body whose
confidence you claim will be broken, and if possible who or what it
is. What kind of legal entity? Is it an individual, corporation etc

Could you confirm that the answer to this is the relatives?

Please can you state what kind of evidence you have that there will
be a breach of confidence?
Not answered

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

King, Lorraine, Bexley Borough Council

Dear Ms Fox

Thank you for your email. In response to your questions, I can confirm that:

- The response refers to "Report Volume 1 - Chairman's report" and "Report Volume 2 - Majority Assessment"

- The information is being withheld under Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act. Section 41 of the Act applies because the Council has a duty of confidence in respect of the information contained in the report. As previously mentioned, Section 41 is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Please note that we will not be providing any information with regards to the references contained within the report and/or who the report refers to. We consider that we have a clear and unequivocal duty of confidence in respect of the personal and sensitive information contained throughout the report.

As stated in my email to you dated 7th October 2014 if you are dissatisfied with our response to your request, you may contact the Information Commissioner.

Their contact details are:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone 0303 123 1133/01625 545 745
www.ico.gov.uk


Kind regards

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer

Bexley Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath Kent DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

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Dear Lorraine,
Thank you for your response. To conclude my questions under s16 could you tell me when it was commissioned and when it was published?

Thankyou

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

King, Lorraine, Bexley Borough Council

Dear Ms Fox

Thank you for your email.

In response to your questions:

- The inquiry was commissioned during 1980/81; the precise date is not known.

- To the best of our knowledge, we do not have any evidence that the report has ever been published.

Kind regards

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer

Bexley Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath Kent DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

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Dear Bexley Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Bexley Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Report of the Panel of Inquiry into the death of Lucy Gates 1982'.

Please could you carry out an internal review on this request.

You have cited S41 as the reason for the exemption which justifies
not releasing the report. “We also consider that the report
contains personal and sensitive information regarding the family
and could cause distress to the living relatives of Lucy Gates."

I believe that even if there is a Section 41 Exemption, it should
apply only to certain parts of the 2 reports which should be
redacted. I was told “It is not possible to redact these references
as the report is over 700 pages long. " This is clearly not a valid
exemption in the FOI Act 2000.

My question about whether you have contacted the relatives was
refused an answer. I am confident that you have not contacted them,
and it is purely speculation on the Councils part, which fits an
agenda to keep the report secret. It is much more likely in my
experience that victims and relatives would like the truth to be
known publicly.

It was stated to me that "the Reports were commissioned in 1980/81;
the precise date is not known. To the best of our knowledge, we do
not have any evidence that the report has ever been published. "

There appears to be plenty of evidence. If a search is done for
“lucie gates panel of inquiry” on the internet, several references
will come up. These correspond to what is in the book Beyond Blame,
Child Abuse Tragedies Revisited by Peter Reder et al “Report of
Panel of Inquiry, Published by the London Borough of Bexley and the
Bexley Area Health Authority in November 1982”.

This evidence shows not only that it was published, but it was
published by the Borough of Bexley and the Bexley Health Authority!
Bexley whose successor, yourselves, claims to have no knowledge of
its publication, and yet should own the copyright. Please could you
clarify if Bexley Council does own the Copryright. Beyond Blame and
other publications also contain much detail of the report to which
you now purport to have a duty of confidence not to publish.

An authority may be embarrassed by a report that criticised it, but
that is not a reason for releasing it under the FOI Act. This
particular “Report” may have extra scope for embarrassment as there
are in fact 2 Reports one by the Chair and another one – the
Majority Report, however this should not be a reason for not
releasing it.

Nor should a reason I was given such as “We do consider a report
that is 32 years old would not be in the public interest to
disclose”. There is nothing intrinsic in the fact that it is 32
years old, that means it is not in the public interest. In fact it
could well be the exact opposite. This case led to intervention by
Secretary of State for Social Services Patrick Jenkin, and interest
by Prime Minister Thatcher and we can truthfully be said to be
still feeling the ripples of this case in Child Protection today.
Thus it is of the utmost importance and overwhelmingly in the
public interest that these reports are released to the public so
that the public can read the truth. The public paid for the
reports, also pay for public servants who this internal review
being reviewed by.

I would urge you to look fully at all the correspondence as other
questions of mine were refused answers. Further I do not feel that
it was made sufficiently clear that I had an option of an internal
review at this present time.

Some further information may be gleaned here
http://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/10/10...

I trust that the Report will now be released.

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

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

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

Maureen Holkham, Bexley Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Thank you for your request for a review received on 13 October 2014. I am
sorry that you are dissatisfied with our attempts to handle your request
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
We will provide you with a written response by 10 November 2014. If there
are any delays in providing you with a response we will let you know.
 
In the meantime if you have any further queries about your complaint, you
can contact me on the telephone number given above.
 
Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Maureen Holkham, Bexley Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
I write with regards to your internal review, reference number 1393364.

We are currently undertaking the review of your FOI request regarding the
report of the Panel of Inquiry into the death of Lucie Gates.

I understand that you have referred to a book by Dr Peter Reder called
"Beyond Blame, Child Abuse Tragedies Revisited" that states that the
report was published, however we are still unable to find any reference
that it was. 
Can you please advise as to what evidence you have to confirm that the
report was in fact published to enable us to look into this matter
further.  The more information you can provide to us with regards to your
understanding of the report publication, the more likely it will be that
we determine the circumstances surrounding this report.
 
Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Dear Maureen Holkham,
Thank you for your letter.
Before I respond, please could you tell me who is carrying out the internal review and what your definition of "published" is?

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Freedom of Information, Bexley Borough Council

Dear Ms Fox

Maureen Holkham, who is the Deputy Director of Corporate Policy & Communications is carrying out the internal review.

As previously stated, we are unable to find any reference of the report being published in any form so, as you requesting this information, I would appreciate your understanding of where and when it was published.

Kind regards

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer

Bexley Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath Kent DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

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Dear Freedom of Information,

I have been sent this email, which is a copy of one apparently sent to you.
It would appear from this email, that the report was published, and that further information will be provided to you on this.
The reason for it not being published at first was due to concerns about the negligence on behalf of the council. Bearing this in mind, refusal to provide the report would leave the council to allegations of cover up.
In terms of any public interest, the public interest is now overwhelming, bolstered by the fact that that an individual concerned is a member of the overarching panel.

Please find email below:

"From: colinsmartone <[email address]>
To: freedomofinformation <[email address]>
Sent: Mon, 3 Nov 2014 21:07
Subject: Re: Information request (ref: 1393964)

Gates Family Inquiry

Thank you for the considered response dated 3.11 2014 and I can well understand the caution being exercised.

In this response I deal mainly with the issue of publication and my understanding of the position although I suggest you should pass a copy of this letter to the Chief Executive and Chief Legal Officer of the Council as I shall be sharing aspects of my involvement with the Gates Family Inquiry as part of my evidence to the Independent panel
of Inquiry set up by the Home Secretary.

My understanding of the position is the Council did not want to publish the majority report of the panel which I drafted because of the negligence we identified on the part of the Council. For this reason you should reconsider not to respond positively to the Freedom of Information request

You may wish to consult other Freedom of Information Officers/and their Councils about the action they have and are now taking in relation to similar requests including internal reports not previously published and internal information marked confidential and private.
Sunderland Council in particular has volunteered to a whatdoyouknow Cathy Fox request such documents marked private and confidential without redactions in which individual officers are named. Newcastle Council has recently published with redactions an internal report in
relation to the Hugh Bostock Scandal.

I would therefore advise Bexley Council to take steps to secure all existing records.

The Council eventually agreed to make available the two reports made by the Inquiry Panel.
When the decision was taken to prepare the majority report the Legal Chairman consulted me about what he should do and I advised that there should be the two reports. His report prepared for him by Counsel for the inquiry and that of the three specialist officers which I drafted, A local Member of Parliament raised the issue of the delay in publication. There was an exchange of correspondence between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and then Secretary of State Patrick Jenkin which has now been published about the case and which led to the Inquiry taking place.
It is my understanding that the two reports were made [available] to the media but to other parties upon request. The reports do not identify individual officers other than by designations but one witness published three articles about her experience. That former officer of the Council is now a member of the Panel of Inquiry for England and Wales.

I have identified 200 pages of media reports in relation to the Inquiry of which a significant proportion relate to its publication and findings. The issue of the attempted cover up was given prominence. I gave one live interview to Sue Lawley London evening news programme in which I confirmed that there had been a cover up but declined to go into
details. One reason for this is that those who agreed the majority report also agreed to exclude a significant fact from the report as did the chairman and which it is my understanding was made known to the legal teams who were granted leave to attend the inquiry and with the right to question witnesses. It is my intention to make the point to
the National Child Abuse Inquiry panel that there are circumstances when a report will not disclose all the information available including information regarded of major significance. However it is not my intention to disclose the specifics of that information unless asked by the inquiry in a closed session.

It should be appreciated that the experience of my involvement in the Gates Family Inquiry is only one aspect of the evidence I shall be providing. I am in the process of listing all the media information available and will provide you with a copy of the list in due
course. In this context I would mention that Sunderland Council previously volunteered to place all the press cuttings information in its possession on line to which again I plan to add my additional records of published media when I have the time.

I am forwarding a copy of this letter to the Cathy Fox site

yours sincerely
Colin Smart"

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Maureen Holkham, Bexley Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
I write with reference to your internal review request regarding the Panel
of Inquiry report into the death of Lucie Gates.

As you will be aware, the further correspondence we have received from
Colin Smart regarding your request, means that we are still in the process
of establishing all the relevant facts in this complex case.

On this occassion, the overriding priority must be to ensure that we deal
with the complex circumstances of this case in accordance with the legal
requirements. This may mean that we need extra time to respond to the
request but will endeavour to do so at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Lorraine King, Bexley Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
I write with reference to your internal review request regarding the Panel
of Inquiry report into the death of Lucie Gates.

As you may be aware, we have received additional documentation from Colin
Smart in relation to your request, which needs to be considered before we
can respond.  

As previously mentioned, the overriding priority must be to ensure that we
deal with the complex circumstances of this case in accordance with the
legal requirements. However we will endeavour to respond to you at the
earliest possible opportunity. 

Regards,

Lorraine King
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 3855
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Dear Lorraine King,

Thank you for keeping me in touch.
Whilst the legal situation for the council may be complicated, the legal situation as regards the FOI is simpler, and I believe overwhelmingly in favour of fulfilling my request. I trust the two are not too antangled

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Jemma Goode, Bexley Borough Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox,

Please find attached the Council's internal review decision regarding your
Freedom of Information request.
Regards,

Jemma Goode
Complaints & FOI Assistant
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 4409
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Maureen Holkham, Bexley Borough Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Please find attached Volume 1 Recommendations and Conclusions.
 
Regards,

Jemma Goode
Complaints & FOI Assistant
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 4409
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Maureen Holkham, Bexley Borough Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Please find attached Volume 2 Concluding Comment 163-173.
 
Regards,

Jemma Goode
Complaints & FOI Assistant
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 4409
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Maureen Holkham, Bexley Borough Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 1393964

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Dear Ms Fox
 
Please find attached Volume 2 Concluding Comment 174-184.
 
Regards,

Jemma Goode
Complaints & FOI Assistant
London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath,
Kent, DA6 7AT
Tel: 0203 045 4409
Email: [email address]
www.bexley.gov.uk

Goode, Jemma, Bexley Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

Please find attached Volume 2 Complaints and Enquiries. 

 

You should have now received the four documents being electronically
released to you.

 

Regards

 

Jemma Goode

Complaints & FOI Assistant

 

London Borough of Bexley

Civic Offices

2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7AT

Tel: 020 3045 4409

Email: [1][email address].uk 

 

 

[2]Your vote matters, make sure your're in

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References

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Dear Maureen Holkham,

Thank you for your response and the result of the internal review. At this stage, before full study, that is probably a fair response.
I am also limited in what I can say but since I commented regarding the relatives, there had been a long time period in between, there had been a fair bit of national publicity and changes in circumstance, and also I believe that the relatives were only contacted after I had said this, when circumstances had changed.
Whatever was the case, it is essential that relatives are contacted for their view, rather than a view given by proxy. This case is slightly different to cases that I predominantly deal with, in that it was family abuse and with the change in circumstances and politicking by some, I can certainly understand the relatives view.
Thank you for your review.

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox