Special dispensation (2)

Emma Kegan made this Freedom of Information request to St Mary's University, Twickenham

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Waiting for an internal review by St Mary's University, Twickenham of their handling of this request.

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,


Following your response to my FOI request named "special dispensation" in the link above.

You claim that:

The legislation that you refer to in your request relates to holiday accommodation. Halls of residence are not classified as holiday accommodation and therefore this regulation is not applicable to the University.

Section 5 (3) of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 actually states:

(3) Subject to paragraph (4), a person responsible for carrying on a business consisting of the provision of holiday accommodation, whether in a hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartment, home, cottage or bungalow, campsite, caravan park or boarding house, must cease to carry on that business during the emergency period.

Question 1. The legislation cites that hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments, homes, cottage or bungalows, campsites, caravan park or boarding houses are included in this legislation - do you agree that the legislation applies equally these types of accommodation providers equally and not just to holiday accommodation as you claim?

Question 2. In an email sent on Friday, June 5th, 2020 at 4:42 PM from the email account of Accommodation Services ([email address]) can you please confirm whether the following paragraph was cited within that email?

"We hope that students who chose to leave halls before the full extent of the restrictions were known, were comforted by the certainty that they still had a home [my emphasis added] at St Mary’s if they needed it".

Question 3. Do you agree that St Mary's University class the 37 week licence accommodation for the halls of residence as a 'home'?

Question 4. Do you acknowledge that the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 EXPLANATORY NOTE made clear: The Regulations also prohibit anyone leaving the place where they live without reasonable excuse?


Question 5. In an email sent on the 1st April 2020 at 11:54:00 am from the email account of St Mary's University Accommodation Office ([email address]) it stated:

"Currently, government-imposed travel restrictions are in place across the UK which allow only essential journeys and therefore we understand that you may not be able to return to your Accommodation before 24 May. We will notify you when restrictions are eased and you are able to collect your belongings"

Do you agree that St Mary's University acknowledged government imposed travel restrictions were in place on the 1st April 2020 and St Mary's were unsure whether those government imposed travel restrictions would be eased by the 24th May 2020 for students to return to collect any belongings that they may have left behind prior leaving the halls of residence prior to the 23rd March 2020?

Question 6. Given that St Mary's acknowledged that government imposed travel restrictions were in place on the 1st April 2020, can you please tell me how students could lawfully move out of the halls of residence on the date they were charged accommodation fees up to, that date being the 8th April 2020?

Question 7. Does St Mary's acknowledge that the health secretary, Matt Hancock is recorded in Hansard on the 23rd March 2020 stating:


"I am surprised to hear that, because we have been very, very clear about universities, alongside schools. It is, of course, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary in the first instance, but on public health grounds we made it absolutely clear that we were taking steps to close schools, nurseries, universities and colleges, except for the children of key workers where they absolutely need to be at school, for example where neither parent can look after them. However, all those at university can stay at home on their own and do not need a parent, so I do not think there is any excuse whatever"?

Question 8. Did St Mary's Vice-Chancellor, Anthony McClaran state in a letter dated 25th September to Dame Eleanor Laing MP:

"St Mary's remained open throughout the pandemic and had students staying in our accommodation"

Do you agree that St Mary's Vice-Chancellor, Mr Anthony McClaran was untruthful in this letter to Dame Eleanor Laing MP and the University didn't remain fully open during the pandemic, because the health secretary, Matt Hancock made it very, very clear universities were to close?

Additionally, do you agree that the real meaning of this letter from Anthony McClaran to Dame Eleanor Laing MP is that St Mary's university accommodation only remained 'open' to students who could not return home, because section 5 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 is very specific and states the university could only house (and remain open) to students could not return home i.e international students as an example, for every other student who could return home to their main residence they must do so, and this was reaffirmed in the Vice Chairman, Dave Hartnett's YouTube broadcast on the 24th March 2020?

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

The Freedom of Information Act says:

A public authority must comply with section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.

This hasn't happened. It would seem that St Mary’s University are making a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Emma Kegan left an annotation ()

Email complaint sent to the ICO.

Dear ICO

St Mary's University, Twickenham are making a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act and simply not answering these vitally important public interest questions.

There is reason to believe they are not answering because they have have overcharged students many hundreds of thousands of pounds in accommodation fees by charging students up to the 8th April but telling them to go home in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This means students were paying for rooms which were vacant. Gavin Williamson MP the head of the DfE has said this is unacceptable which I note from information that is posted on the @uni_dispute2 twitter account.

Can you please ask that St Mary's University answer this FOI request properly please?


Yours sincerely
Emma Kegan-Law.