Request for copies of correspondence with

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan 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 refused by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please forward copies of ALL correspondence you have, whether received or sent, regardless of the medium used, (letter; email; fax; memorandum, etc.) and regardless of subject matter, with the following law firm:

DLA Piper UK LLP

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

This looks rather delayed.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Request for copies of correspondence with'.

Please act upon my request immediately. You have failed to respond or act even though this request was lodged in early February. I am extremely disappointed with you and your performance gives me extreme cause for concern.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Another one appealed to the Information Commissioner.

Appealed on 21st April 2012.

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

I have 19 FOI requests referred to the ICO. I would be expecting WBC to be on their watch list at some point soon.

That would go against their spin of how transparent they are in their decision making and actions.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Soon, they'll accuse you of being "vexatious", just to muddy the water a bit, in the hope of casting the "blame" onto others.

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

im not vexatious at all. I am just a concerned citizen enquiring about information which is available through legislation. I have no axe to grind, I merely want the local authority to disclose information carried out with tax payers money.

Through the requests I may have uncovered a document showing the unlawful delay of service provision to vulnerable adults. Could that really be vexatious?

As these are requests for information, they are not complaints and dont apply to the WBC vexatious complaints policy. I am also polite and not abusive.

Arthur Hurworth left an annotation ()

WIRRAL METROPOLITAIN BOROUGH COUNCIL are already on the ICO's watch list.
see wirralleaks website.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Received the following email from the ICO:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/12062012...

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

As we are now in July, and this request was lodged in February, but is yet to be acknowledged, please advise what is going on.

I'd appreciate an answer as soon as possible,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

The reasoning behind this FoI request is explained on this blog, along with a copy of a letter from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, concluding that disability discrimination was carried out by Wirral Council over a period of several years against 16 of its own supported living tenants:

http://easyvirtualassistance.wordpress.c...

Since The Director of Law was suspended at Wirral Council in July 2012, further doubt has been cast on DLA Piper UK's bizarre conclusion, which flew in the face of that of the EHRC, that there was "no disability discrimination" by Wirral Council.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

I rang the officer dealing with this at the Information Commissioner's Office this afternoon.

He told me that in accordance with my wishes, the complaint had been 'escalated' in July 2012.

He then stated that the department concened are currently processing complaints 'escalated in May'. So, at this rate, the complaint will be dealt with two months from now, in November 2012. Apparently I can ring the senior manager and ask him to promote it if I regard it as urgent enough. I consider unaddressed disability discrimination IS urgent enough, so will get onto this asap.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Sadly the more Wirral Council FOI requests get referred to ICO, the slower the whole system gets.

It's a shame ICO can't charge Wirral Council for all the extra work.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

However if there's to be any 'blame' or responsibility attributed for this, the council needs to look closer to home.

It hasn't resourced itself accordingly in order to meet its obligations under the Statutory Freedom of Information Act - which does not set a limit on the number of requests any individual, anonymous or otherwise, can make.

For the council to plead its corner correctly, it needs
to meet its own obligations as a starting point. Anything falling short will rightly fall upon deaf ears with the ICO or any subsequent tribunal.

The council, through its own mulitple negligence and repeated failure, has created scandal upon scandal - and a heightened public awareness and engagement - hence the large number of FoI requests from a concerned council tax paying public.

Such compelling and legitimate public interest can't be fobbed off. And the public are not the issue here, no matter how much those in power would like to pass the buck onto them.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

You're right there is in theory no limit to the FOI requests Wirral Council get, however if they published the information released for previous FOI requests (as many public authorities do already) it would reduce the chance of different individuals asking for the same information (or if they did happen they could merely provide a link to it).

I agree about the resources bit and not meeting its obligations, however it seems that FOI culture at Wirral Council is one of trying not to release information they would find embarrassing if it entered the public domain or media.

As to the public interest, the councillors are supposed to be there to represent the public's interest. However the attitude of some councillors is that they have to listen to officer's "professional advice", however strange that advice may be and 99% of the time just agree with it. After all if councillors don't agree with officers, officers in the past have accused them of all sorts of things like not respecting officer's professional opinion/judgement (which officers can see as superior to councillors'), accuse them of micro-managing them etc. In the end most councillors realise it's not worth the hastle, present and future to go against what senior management and officers want. After all there are sixty-six councillors and thousands of officers, so the councillors are outnumbered...

Lyon, Rosemary A., Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

 

I refer to the request for information contained in your email of 4
February 2012.The request was as follows:-

 

Please forward copies of ALL correspondence you have, whether received or
sent, regardless of the medium used, (letter; email; fax ;memorandum,
etc.) and regardless of subject matter, with the following law firm:

 

DLA Piper UK LLP

 

I also refer to the decision notice from the Information Commissioner’s
Office dated 10 October 2012 , Reference: FS50445302 –DC, in connection
with this request. The decision notice requires the Council to respond to
your request or issue a valid refusal notice under section 17 (1) of the
Freedom of information Act 2000.

 

I consider that the information you have requested is exempt information
under Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, in that it was
obtained by the Council as a public authority from any other person, and
the disclosure of the information to the public by the Council would
constitute a breach of confidence by that or any other person. (Section
 41 (1) (a) and (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.)

I have had regard to the Awareness Guidance 2-information provided in
confidence  , version 4 issued by the ICO on 12 September 2008. I have had
regard to the nature of the information which has been obtained by the
Council from any other person, namely DLA Piper and also another person,
namely the client of DLA Piper. I consider that if information were
disclosed in response to your request that any breach of confidence would
be actionable by the person to whom the duty of confidence was owed. I am
satisfied that the information has the necessary “quality of confidence”
referred to in Awareness Guidance No 2 and that an obligation of
confidence exists .I  have had regard to the views of  the person
affected, who have expressly stated that they consider the information to
be confidential. I have therefore concluded that the Council owes a duty
of confidence and that the exemption contained in Section 41 applies to
your request. Although this is an absolute exemption under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000,  I also consider that the wider public interest in
maintaining this confidentiality outweighs the public interest in
disclosure. I have had regard to the interests of the person to whom the
duty of confidence is owed. The question is whether disclosure to the
public would be a breach of confidence. I consider that there would be
such a breach of confidence if information were disclosed to the public.
The duty of confidence in this case is owed to an individual, being the
client of DLA Piper.

 

I have also had regard  to  Section 41 (2) of the Act  and that the duty
to confirm or deny whether information is held, does not arise to the
extent that the confirmation or denial that would have to be given would
constitute an actionable breach of confidence.

 

I am therefore refusing your request for information under Section 17 (1)
of Freedom of Information Act 2000, relying on the exemption contained in
Section 41 of the Act. I am aware that you have already complained to the
Information Commissioner about the delay in responding to your original
request and your request for an internal review ,which resulted in the
decision notice referred to above. I apologise for this delay. This
response has been copied to the Information Commissioner’s Office If you
are dissatisfied with the Council’s response ,I consider that you still
have the right to ask for an internal review which should be sent to Mr
Michael Rowan, Legal and Member Services, Wirral Borough Council, Town
Hall, Brighton Street, Wallasey, CH44 8ED , [1][email address].
Such an internal review will be dealt with in accordance with the
Council’s complaints procedure. See
([2]http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/adv...

You also have the right  to complain further to the Information
Commissioner, whose address is the Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

[3]www.ico.gov.uk

Tel: 0303 123 1113
Fax: 01625 524510

 

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Dear Lyon, Rosemary A.,

Firstly, please provide all correspondence generated by yourself (under the terms of the original request).

I don't believe the information that the council generated with regard to this can be covered by a Section 41 Exemption. Having already travelled as far as the Information Commissioner’s Office and received a legal document in the form of a ‘Decision Notice’ instructing you to act, I look forward to receiving this forthwith, without any need to internally review or put any further obstacles in the way (I don’t think the FOI Act permits an internal review AFTER a decision notice has been sent.)

Secondly, as for the information generated by DLA Piper UK LLP, I believe there is an overriding public interest attached to the release of the information.

• Wirral Council has a statutory duty to protect its vulnerable people – for the good of society. It has quite deliberately failed in this through unlawfully taking at least £700,000 from the bank accounts of many disabled Wirral people over a period of many years. When informed in great detail about this internally by Martin Morton, the council failed to stop it, bullied him out of his job, and carried on doing it – see the findings of the Martin Smith and Anna Klonowski Independent reports. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission found that this amounted to disability discrimination – the very subject matter of this request

• As a result of this disability discrimination, vulnerable members of the public have had their wellbeing adversely affected. Flowing directly from this, their ability to defend themselves against the threat of abuse has been severely diminished, because their confidence in their statutory protector – the local council (who now deny them access to information) - has been so badly damaged. The council itself has been forced to admit to abuse of learning disabled tenants

• Despite this admission, there has been no reckoning or accountability yet for any of the councillors or senior public servants directly involved in these scandals – indeed currently, there is a drive (originating with the Council’s legal head) to keep the names within the investigation reports hidden. The public are still waiting for ‘right to be done’ – for the good of society. But whilst they wait, there have been pay offs and there have been gagging clauses, used to stop former employees talking, concealed within compromise agreements. And there have been six figure sums paid to silence people who were found by independent investigations to have been connected to abusive behaviour towards vulnerable and disabled members of society

• Given the history of failed governance, which has also spread into other council departments, vulnerable people and their carers now need to be able to seek redress and rebuild their confidence in the body which is entrusted with looking out for their welfare. They can do this by gaining access to information and to areas that appear to have been deliberately closed off through confidentiality – the written exchanges between the council and the law firms whose services are continuing to be purchased with large amounts of public money. Confidentiality is a factor; I don’t deny this; but I believe it is dwarfed by the urgent need for transparency, for the legitimate and compelling public interest to be satisfied, and ultimately for the good of society

• I don’t believe in this case that confidentiality can be a justified obstacle to openness and transparency and the good of society. There are now some very compelling questions that need to be asked of the law firm DLA Piper. Such as, how they arrived at a finding that there was no disability discrimination? How did the EHRC suggestion that disability discrimination, once confirmed, and investigated to see where it occurred, and how far it spread – become completely subverted – and changed to a remit which failed to acknowledge and recognise the EHRC finding, and looked simply for whether disability discrimination had occurred or not – only to find that it “hadn’t occurred”?

• On Wirral, where so much suffering has been caused over such a long period of time (10 years plus). I don’t believe that grave matters such as systematic abuse and disability discrimination, and the correspondence surrounding this, can be blocked through a Section 41 exemption on the grounds of ‘confidentiality’. The good of society is paramount and needs to be served in this case

I will be contacting the Information Commissioner's Office for further advice,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Lyon, Rosemary A., Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

I will not be in the office on Friday 23  Novemberr. If you have any
queries please contact Chris Glover on  0151-691-8499  in the first
instance.

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Dear Lyon, Rosemary A.,

Further to the above, as it took 9 months for the council to reply, I have some doubts about how confident you are in engaging a Section 41 Exemption.

In light of this, please supply a written copy of DLA Piper's express statement that they "consider the information to be confidential".

Please also confirm in writing that DLA Piper have an intention to sue the council in the event of any breach. I believe this will be required for any successful engagement of Section 41.

Further, I do not believe you are in a position to confirm or deny the existence of:

a. Correspondence generated by the council
b. Correspondence generated by DLA Piper

Explanation:

a. Because this is not covered by a Section 41 exemption

b. Because the existence of the correspondence can be assumed for certain from the fact that the public now have DLA Piper identified as a contributor to the Anna Klonowski report - in the area of Disability Discrimination. There will be no detriment suffered by the council or DLA Piper, or risk to confidentiality in asserting that the information is held,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here is a link to an article, setting out what I feel is the background and true motivation behind Wirral Council's very poor response times.

Notably, there are just 2 people dedicated to Freedom of Information and Data at this council (one professional and one admin assistant) - which says it all really.

http://easyvirtualassistance.wordpress.c...

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

 

Dear Sir

 

Further to your email of 23 November 2012 I would offer the following
response and also apologise for the delay in responding.  

 

This review has now been conducted and the reviewer considers that the
information you requested is exempt information under section 41 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as stated in the valid refusal notice of
22 November 2012 and for those reasons. 

 

 In addition to refusing disclosure under s41, the reviewer considers an
additional ground for refusal exists under s42 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.i.e information in respect of which a claim to legal
professional privilege or, in Scotland, to confidentiality of
communications could be maintained in legal proceedings is exempt
information. S42 is not an absolute exemption under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.  . The reviewer considers that the public interest
in maintaining the legal professional privilege that exists between client
and solicitor outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The reviewer
has had regard to the guidance issued by the ICO on the exemption for
legal professional privilege version 1.2 accessible on the Information
Commissioner’s website. 

 

 The duty to confirm or deny whether information is held does not arise
under s42 if or to the extent that compliance with it would involve the
disclosure of any information (whether or not already recorded) in respect
of which such a claim could be maintained in legal proceedings.

 

The reviewer is therefore upholding the original refusal notice relying on
the exemption contained in section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act
2000 and in addition considers that the original decision could in
addition have relied on s42 of the Act.

 

 

Kind Regards

Jane Corrin

Information Manager

Wirral Council

 

 

 

 

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Dear Corrin, Jane,

Thanks for your unhelpful response.

You appear to have ignored the clear requests I made in my last email.

I will therefore be appealing to the Information Commissioner's Office,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin