Dear Durham University,

Please treat this as an FOI request.

I require the following in relation to the 2020 Student Union election,

1) Any email (including attachments) sent or received by any member of the University Secretary's Office in relation to the 2020 Durham Student’s Union election.
2) A breakdown of results for the 2020 student’s union election
3) The number of votes cast for ‘RON’ for each position. I note ‘RON’ has been disqualified, I require the raw number of votes cast for the ‘RON’ not the votes which have been counted as being valid.

Yours faithfully,

John

John Snaith

ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear Mr Snaith

Freedom of Information Request

I acknowledge receipt of your email below requesting information from Durham University.

Please be advised that the University will respond as soon as possible and in any event within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance Unit
Durham University

Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office
t: +44 (0) 191 334 6103/46246  e: [Durham University request email]

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:
This message is intended solely for the addressee(s) in the first instance and may contain confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender, delete the message from your system immediately and do not disclose the contents to any other party.

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ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear John Snaith

 

Public authorities are required to respond to requests for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) no later than the
twentieth day following the date of receipt of the request (day 20 for
your request falls today, 8 April). 

 

The University holds information which falls within the scope of your
request, but some of this information may be exempt under Section 36
(Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs).  Section 36 is subject
to a public interest test and as the University has not yet reached a
decision on the balance of the public interest in this case, additional
time is required to fully consider where the balance of the public
interest lies in relation to the information you have requested. 

 

Section 10(3) of the FOIA allows public authorities to extend this time
limit where the information held may be exempt under a qualified
exemption, and they require more time to consider the balance of the
public interest when deciding whether to disclose the information and does
not have to comply with the request until such time as is reasonable in
the circumstances. Therefore the University is extending the time limit as
it will not be able to respond to your request in full within 20 working
days.

 

The University will respond to your request as quickly as possible, and in
any event before 11 May 2020.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Unit

Durham University

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Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office

t: +44 (0) 191 33 46103/46246  e: [1][Durham University request email]

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ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear John Snaith

 

Further to our acknowledgement of your request for information, I am
writing to let you know that unfortunately there will be a delay in our
full response to you.

 

The University, like other organisations, is facing unprecedented
challenges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some resources have
been diverted away from usual compliance and information rights work and
despite best efforts it is not possible to access some University
information whilst staff work remotely.

 

We will aim to fully respond as soon as we are able to do so and in the
meantime we will aim to update you weekly, subject to demand on the
service.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Unit

Durham University

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Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office

e: [1][Durham University request email]

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ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear John Snaith

 

Thank you for your request for information from Durham University. 
Colleagues have provided the information below in response to your
questions.

 

I require the following in relation to the 2020 Student Union election,

 

1)              Any email (including attachments) sent or received by any
member of the University Secretary's Office in relation to the 2020 Durham
Student’s Union election.

The University has withheld emails relating to the 2020 Durham Student
Unions election under section 36(2) of the FOIA which states that: 

 

36.(2) Information to which this section applies is exempt information if,
in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the
information under this Act-

(b) would, or would be likely to, inhibit-

(i) the free and frank provision of advice

 

In the reasonable opinion of the University’s ‘qualified person’ (i.e. the
Vice-Chancellor) the University needs to give the individuals involved in
decisions a safe space to be able to express their views and seek advice. 
Disclosure of the information in the emails would be likely to undermine
future deliberations by the University by prejudicing the ability of staff
to be free and frank in seeking and giving their views and advice.  In
this instance, this refers to emails where the University has offered its
professional opinion and advice to the Student Union and may have also
held internal discussions.  In the future, provision of advice and views
may be inhibited if staff understood that there was a likelihood of
release under the FOIA.  The inhibitory effect may also cause delay to the
provision of a complete and honest complement of advice and views. 
Deliberations on complex issues and hard choices may be avoided, which
would ultimately prejudice the quality of administrative and governance
decisions at the University.

 

The University recognises that there is a public interest in disclosure of
information that ultimately impacts on the decisions that it makes.  It
promotes accountability and enables the public to better understand and,
therefore, participate in the decision-making process. 

 

We believe, however, that this public interest is outweighed by the public
interest in withholding the information in this case.  The University
needs to be able to offer advice and guidance regarding issues relating to
the Student Union freely and frankly and we believe that disclosure of any
information that could result in staff being less candid in expressing
their views or in providing information in order to seek advice would be
prejudicial to the University.  Staff need to be confident in giving
advice that sets out all available options so that those who are
ultimately responsible for making decisions and giving appropriate advice
and guidance do so in light of all relevant information.

 

2)              A breakdown of results for the 2020 student’s union
election

Information not held.

 

3)              The number of votes cast for ‘RON’ for each position. I
note ‘RON’ has been disqualified, I require the raw number of votes cast
for the ‘RON’ not the votes which have been counted as being valid.

Information not held.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the University’s response to your freedom of
information request, you can ask us to internally review our handling of
your request, including the application of any exemptions applied.  To do
this, please email [1][Durham University request email] or write to:

 

Information Governance Unit

The Palatine Centre

Stockton Road

Durham

DH1 3LE          

 

Please state the grounds on which you wish the decision to be reviewed and
enclose any other information that may be useful in considering the matter
further.  We aim to inform you of our decision within 20 working days from
the date your request for internal review is received.

 

If you are not satisfied with the results of the internal review you may
apply to the Information Commissioner's Office for an independent review.

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane                                                  

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Unit

Durham University

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Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office

e: [3][Durham University request email]

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