The Colston Statue: What Next? report (draft versions)

The request was successful.

Dear University of Bristol,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I wish to see the following:

Full copies of all draft versions of the 'The Colston Statue: What Next?' report by the We Are Bristol History Commission.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2022/02/...

https://www.bristol.gov.uk/policies-plan...

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Lloyd

University of Bristol FOI mailbox, University of Bristol

Thank you for your e-mail. The University will endeavour to respond to
your request under the Freedom of Information Act within 20 working days
of receipt.

We may need to ask you certain questions to clarify your request to ensure
we fully understand what information is being requested. If so, the 20
working day deadline will be calculated once we have received such
clarification. 

 

The University's A-Z index can help in locating information that is
publicly available on the University's
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For further information about the University's FOI procedure, please
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References

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1. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/index/
2. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/s...
3. https://www.hesa.ac.uk/
4. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/tailored-datasets
5. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/secretary/foi/

SecOInformation Governance, University of Bristol

1 Attachment

 

Dear Joseph,  

 

I write in relation to your request for information dated 07th April 2022.

 

This is to notify you that we are extending the deadline for us to respond
to your request by virtue of Section 10(3) of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 (The "Act") to consider the application of a qualified exemption.

 

We will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible.

 

Kind Regards,

FOI Team

 

SecOInformation Governance | University of Bristol  |
[1]www.bristol.ac.uk/

 

 

 

To: SecOInformation Governance ([University of Bristol request email])
From: Joseph Lloyd ([FOI #852410 email])
Title: Freedom of Information request - The Colston Statue: What Next?
report (draft versions)
Sent: 07/04/2022 22:27

Dear University of Bristol,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I wish to see the following:

Full copies of all draft versions of the 'The Colston Statue: What Next?'
report by the We Are Bristol History Commission.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2022/02/...

https://www.bristol.gov.uk/policies-plan...

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Lloyd

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SecOInformation Governance, University of Bristol

Dear Joseph Lloyd,

 

Freedom of Information Request (our reference FOI22198)

 

We refer to your Freedom of Information request dated 07/04/2022

 

You requested the following information:

 

“..Full copies of all draft versions of the 'The Colston Statue: What
Next?' report by the We Are Bristol History Commission..”

 

University’s Response

 

Further to Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “Act”) we
confirm that the information requested is held by the University of
Bristol (the “University”). However, we consider the information to be
exempt from disclosure by virtue of Section 36 of the Act.

 

Section 36 – Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs

 

Section 36(2)(b) of the Act exempts information if, in the reasonable
opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the information under the Act

 

“(b) would, or would be likely to, inhibit—

(i)             the free and frank provision of advice, or

(ii)            the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of
deliberation […]”

This exemption requires the approval of a ‘qualified person’, which for
universities is the Vice-Chancellor. ‘Qualified’ does not mean qualified
in a legal sense, rather the person with the seniority to approve the
application of the exemption.

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office gives the following guidance in
relation to this exemption:

 

“Information may be exempt under section 36(2)(b)(i) or (ii) if its
disclosure would, or would be likely to inhibit the ability of public
authority staff and others to express themselves openly, honestly and
completely, or to explore extreme options, when providing advice or giving
their views as part of the process of deliberation. The rationale for this
is that inhibiting the provision of advice or the exchange of views may
impair the quality of decision making by the public authority.”

 

Section 36 is a qualified exemption, which means that having determined
that some prejudice or harm would or would be likely to flow from
disclosure of the information, we are then required to consider the public
interest factors for and against disclosure.

 

Public interest consideration in favour of disclosure

 

As a publicly-funded body, the University recognises that there is a
public interest in it being open and transparent in relation to its
affairs, and especially in relation to how it addresses matters of public
concern. The University recognises that disclosure of draft documents can
show the workings at all stages of our processes and promotes
transparency.

 

Public interest consideration in favour of withholding the information

 

There is a strong public interest in ensuring that freedom of expression
is not stifled by fear of retribution. If staff feel unable to express
themselves freely, sensitive topics might not be fully explored, which
might impair the University’s ability to make decisions on its approach to
such topics. This cannot be in the public interest.

 

Disclosure of the requested information would inhibit the free and frank
provision of advice and exchange of views between University staff and
other authorities, especially those who may be working on future reports
for the History Commission, who could become reluctant to comment on
future draft reports on the basis they could become public. This could
impede the free and frank exchange of views on sensitive topics.

 

Disclosure of draft material would prejudice effective conduct of public
affairs between authorities which regularly exchange draft documents as
part of the policy development process. Disclosure would undermine the
joint co-production process which exists between authorities and it would
set a challenging precedent.

 

The final version of the “The Colston Statue: What Next?” report is
publicly available online. The University struggles to see how disclosure
of draft versions serve the public interest in any meaningful way which
would outweigh the arguments presented above.

 

The Vice-Chancellor, who is the University’s ‘qualified person’ for the
purposes of section 36 of the Act, has also considered this matter and is
of the opinion that the exemption is engaged.

 

Internal Review Procedure

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, then you have a
right under Section 50 of the Act to request an internal review.  All such
requests must be sent to us within 40 days, and must clearly state our
reference number (at the top of this email) and your reason for requesting
an internal review.  We will aim to respond to your request for an
internal review within 20 working days of receipt.

 

Your request for an internal review should be sent to
[University of Bristol request email], quoting your FOI reference number.
Alternatively, you could post it to:

 

Director of Legal Services

Secretary’s Office

University of Bristol

Beacon House

Queens Road

Bristol

BS8 1QU

 

Information Commissioners Office

 

Should you remain dissatisfied with the final outcome of the internal
review then you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (the
“ICO”) for an independent review.  The ICO is the Government’s Independent
Body responsible for overseeing the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the
Data Protection Act 2018 and The Environmental Information Regulations
2004.

 

Please note the ICO will only review cases that have exhausted the
University’s internal review procedure. All correspondence to the ICO must
quote the University’s reference number and your reasons for your appeal. 
The ICO’s contact details are as follows:

 

The Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

More information can be found at the ICO’s website
at [1]http://www.ico.org.uk

 

Kind Regards

 

Freedom of Information Team

University of Bristol

 

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Dear University of Bristol,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of University of Bristol's handling of my FOI request 'The Colston Statue: What Next? report (draft versions)'.

I don't believe that the disclosure of these documents would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. The Coston Statue toppling was arguably one the most significant events in Bristol's recent history; it is therefore vital in my view that these draft versions are made public to see how the University arrived at the conclusions in the report.

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

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Lloyd

Dear SecOInformation Governance,

This internal review response to FOI22198 is now overdue.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Lloyd

Henry Stuart, University of Bristol

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Lloyd,

 

Internal review of response to freedom of information request FOI22198

 

I write in response to your request for an internal review of the
University of Bristol's answer to your freedom of information request. I
apologise for the delay in providing this response and thank you for your
patience. 

 

Your Request

 

On 8th April 2022 the University of Bristol (‘the University’) received a
request for information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 (‘the Act’). You requested the following information:

 

“Full copies of all draft versions of the 'The Colston Statue: What Next?'
report by the We Are Bristol History Commission”

 

Our Response

 

On 12th May 2022 we responded that the University of Bristol holds
information relevant to your request but that it was being withheld from
release under section 36 of the Act as it's release would or would be
likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. Specifically,
it was stated that it would inhibit the free and frank provision of advice
and/or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of
deliberation.

The use of the exemption was approved by the University's 'qualified
person', as required by the Act. A public interest test was also conducted
which concluded that the public interest in withholding the information
outweighed the public interest in its release.

On 13th May you requested an internal review of this response, stating
that you did not agree that the release of the draft reports would
prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.

 

Internal Review 

To reassure you that your request for an internal review has been dealt
with fairly, I confirm that I did not have any direct involvement in the
handling of your freedom of information request and the response provided.

 

I have assessed two elements of the University's response to your request
as part of the internal review:

·       The University’s procedural compliance with the Act;

·       The University’s use of section 36 to withhold requested
information from release. 

The handling of the request – procedural compliance with the Act

The request was handled in a professional manner and the response was
formulated in line with the obligations conferred on the University by
sections 1 and 17 of the Act, i.e. the response confirmed that information
requested was held and stated the provisions contained in the Act that the
University was relying on to refuse disclosure of it.

 

The response was not sent within the statutory 20 working day period
during which the University was required to answer your request. However,
you were informed within this deadline that  the deadline was
being extended by virtue of Section 10(3) of the Act to consider the
application of a qualified exemption. The response was sent soon after
this and complied with the legal requirement in this respect.

Application of section 36 to withhold requested information

 

Having reviewed the way in which the response to your request was
formulated and considered the issues at stake, I am satisfied that the
section 36 exemption has been appropriately applied and explained. I am
also happy that the public interest test was properly undertaken.

Release of the draft reports could inhibit the free and frank provision of
advice and exchange of views between University representatives and third
parties, including those who may be working on future similar endeavours.
The confidential exchange of advice on sensitive topics would be impeded
and the contribution of the University's subject matter experts to these
deliberations would be jeopardised. This applies to the work of the We are
Bristol History Commission and similar policy development initiatives
relying on appropriate consultation and co-production; it also applies to
the wide scope of the University's relevant engagement with other third
parties through which it pursues its civic responsibilities.

The disclosure of draft reports of this nature would result in a chilling
effect and inhibit frankness and candour. This would damage the quality of
deliberation and advice and could lead to poorer decision making. 

Whereas I fully acknowledge the notable public interest in the issues
addressed in the reports, their release would have a broader impact on the
way in which many other issues are addressed and deliberated. It would
undermine the preservation of safe spaces in which relevant parties
can develop ideas, debate live issues and reach decisions away from
external interference and distraction. I also concur that the public
interest considerations are satisfied by the final report being in the
public domain and open to public scrutiny, without the need to impose the
wider impact on vital multi-party discourse that has been outlined.

 

Information Commissioner's Office

If you remain dissatisfied with the University’s response then it is your
right to submit a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Further details can be found at [1]www.ico.org.uk, or you can write to:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 

Yours sincerely,

 

Henry

show quoted sections

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #852410 email]
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.org.uk/
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/

Joseph Lloyd left an annotation ()

The ICO has now instructed UoB to release the draft versions (IC-185925-Z1J4).

SecOInformation Governance, University of Bristol

10 Attachments

Dear Joseph Lloyd, 
(Ref: FOI22198) 
We write further to your request for draft copies of the "The Colston
Statue: What Next?" report. 
Please see attached documents. Please note, parts of the attached
documents have been redacted to withhold information exempt from
disclosure by virtue of Section 40(2) of the Act - third party personal
information. Any information is exempt from disclosure under the Act if it
relates to or is supplied by another individual and disclosure of that
information would contravene any of the principles of the Data Protection
Act.
The attached documents were works in progress which went through a process
of back and forth with authors making minor changes. This was particularly
the case for the short report where a limited word count needed to be
met. 
Regards,
FOI Team 
University Secretary's Office
SecOInformation Governance | University of Bristol | [1]www.bristol.ac.uk/

References

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