Section 40(2) exemption and Salaries of senior staff

The request was partially successful.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

I note in a number of Decision Notices ("DNs"), the ICO state that exact salary/remuneration details should be disclosed when in relation to 'senior' employees, and that the exemption at s40(2) of FOIA does not apply. For example, DN FS50062124 states that, due to the seniority of the employee concerned, exact salary (and other remuneration) details that were requested should be disclosed. Also, in a recent DN (FS50229617) the ICO discusses the fact that senior employees should expect a greater level of scrutiny. There are other examples of which you are no doubt aware.

I am puzzled, therefore, as to why the ICO upheld its own decision NOT to release exact salary details of its five most senior employees in DN FS50163927, as this seems to be at odds with the ICO's own guidance, and other DNs on this subject.

I would be grateful, therefore, if you could disclose any internal correspondence relating to the handling of DN FS50163927 where the application of s40(2) was discussed and/or considered, and why it was felt to apply to the requested information in this case, but not in other DNs relating to salaries/remuneration of senior employees of public authorities. There is clearly a very strong public interest in disclosure of this information, especially as the ICO seems to take a different approach when preparing DNs that relate to itself, which is curious...

Yours faithfully,

Fred Ormerod

Information Commissioner’s Office

Link: [1]File-List

7th May 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0311440

Dear Mr Ormerod

Request for Information

Thank you for your e-mail of 4 May 2010, in which you have asked us to
provide you with information relating to our handling of case reference
FS50163927.   

Your request has been passed to the Internal Compliance Team, and is being
dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 under
the reference number shown above.  We will therefore respond to your
request by 2 June 2010 which, allowing for the late May bank holiday, is
20 working days from the day after we received your request.

Should you wish to reply to this e-mail please be careful not to amend the
information in the ‘subject’ field. This will ensure that your reply
is added directly to your case. However, please be aware that this is an
automated process; the information will not be read by a member of our
staff until your case is allocated to a request handler.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Tel: 01625 545894

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

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1. file:///tmp/rad85D71_files/filelist.xml
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Information Commissioner’s Office

2 Attachments

Link: [1]File-List

19th May 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0311440

Dear Mr Ormerod

Request for Information

Further to my acknowledgement of 7 May 2010 we are now in a position to
provide you with a response to your request for information dated 5 May
2010.

In your e-mail of 5 May you made a number of observations about the
decisions the ICO has made in respect of complaints submitted under
section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) about the
disclosure of the salaries of senior public sector staff.  Specifically
you asked us to provide you with copies of “…any internal
correspondence relating to the handling of FS50163927 where the
application of s40(2) was discussed or considered” and you have also
raised a more general query, asking us “… why it was felt to apply to
the requested information in this case, but not in other DN’s relating
to salaries/remuneration of senior employees of public authorities”.

Dealing with your request for recorded information first, please find
attached a scanned copy of all the information held on the case FS50163927
which was generated by and within the ICO.  All of this information is
held on our case references FS50163927, which was created in order to deal
with the requester’s complaint under s50 of the FOIA.  It also makes
reference to the previous case FOI/589, which was created to deal with the
original information request of February 2007.

I have contacted Rachael Cragg, the case officer who dealt with the
requester’s complaint, and she has confirmed that all recorded
information relating to the DN which was issued on FS50163927 is held on
that case.    I can therefore confirm that the attached documents do
constitute all of the recorded information we hold which falls within the
scope of your request.

You will however notice that we have removed, or redacted, all named
references to the individual who made the original request to the ICO in
February 2007 and made a subsequent complaint to the ICO in accordance
with s50 of the FOIA.  This information, which refers to their name and
contact details, has been removed in order to protect their identity. 
This personal information is exempt from disclosure to you under section
40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as to provide it to you
would contravene the Data Protection Act 1998.

Turning to your enquiry about the consistency of our approach to the
disclosure of the salaries of senior public sector staff, again I have
consulted with colleagues in our Complaints Resolution Division.  They
have advised that all s50 FOIA cases are considered in line with general
principles, and in accordance with our published guidance on the
disclosure of public sector salaries, the latest version of which can be
accessed from our website via the following link:

[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

However, it is important to note that each complaint, and the information
being sought, is considered on its own merits.  The rationale for the
outcome in the case of FS50163927 is clearly explained in the decision
notice itself.

Taking into account the comments you have made about the DN’s issued in
connection with the other cases you have referred to, we would make the
point that although the requests may, on the face of it, appear similar in
nature, the reasons for disclosure in each of those cases all carry
different weight and consideration, particularly when the public interest
factors are taken into account.  This explains why there is the
possibility that slightly different final decisions are reached in
seemingly similar cases.

I hope that this provides you with the information you require.  However,
if you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to request a review of
our decision or make a complaint about how your request has been handled
you should write to the Internal Compliance Team at the address below or
e-mail [3][email address]

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

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

 

A copy of our review procedure is attached.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Tel: 01625 545894

[4]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/radE9821_files/filelist.xml
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

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