Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Oxfordshire County 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 partially successful.

Dear Oxfordshire County Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total
of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) of the Council who have signed compromise agreements directly related to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s).

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting as the Council's legal team, to sign and forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Please provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2; 2007 - 4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

Please note that I do not seek or require any personal information such as names and addresses – only the total figures for each subject area.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Rowan, Sarah - Corporate Core - Democratic Services, Oxfordshire County Council

Our reference: 2664 FOI
 
Dear Mr Cardin
 
Thank you for your request of 5 January 2011 in which you asked for the
following information:

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total
of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) of
the Council who have signed compromise agreements directly related
to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and
external investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s).

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current
employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) who have
agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as
part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting as the
Council's legal team, to sign and forgo their right to approach the
council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA
Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Please provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2;
2007 - 4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

Please note that I do not seek or require any personal information
such as names and addresses - only the total figures for each
subject area.

Your request is being considered and Oxfordshire County Council will
respond as soon as possible within the next 20 working days in compliance
with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This means that the council
will send a response to you by 2 February 2011.

 
There may be a fee payable for this information. You will be informed if
this is the case and you can decide if you wish to proceed with your
request.

 
If appropriate, the information requested can be made available in
alternative formats, including other languages, Braille, large print, and
audiocassette. If you require any of these formats then please let me
know.

 
Please contact me if you have any have further enquiries about your
request. I would be grateful if you could quote the reference number
given at the top of this email.

 
Yours sincerely,

Sarah Rowan
Complaints & Freedom of Information Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
Law and Governance
County Hall
New Road
Oxford
OX1 1ND

Tel: 01865 816395
Fax: 01865 783195
Email: [email address]
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email] (for FOI requests)
Email: [email address] (for complaints)
Internet: [1]www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

This email, including attachments, may contain confidential information.
If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
Oxfordshire County Council. Council emails are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/emaildiscl...

References

Visible links
1. file://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

Rowan, Sarah - Corporate Core - Democratic Services, Oxfordshire County Council

Our reference: 2664 FOI

Dear Mr Cardin
 
Thank you for your request of 5 January 2011 in which you asked for
information on compromise agreements.

Taking each of your points in turn:

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total of current
employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) of the Council who
have signed compromise agreements directly related to the resolving of
dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external investigation(s) /
whistleblowing incident(s).

Unfortunately Oxfordshire County Council cannot meet your request for this
information as the cost of locating and retrieving the information
requested exceeds the "appropriate limit" of £ 450 for local authorities,
as stated in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate
Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.

Oxfordshire County Council does not hold a central list of employees who
have signed compromise agreements. To provide you with the information you
have requested would involve a member of staff manually going through each
individual employment-related file to determine whether it involved a
compromise agreement and what it was for. This would involve a significant
cost and diversion of resources from Oxfordshire County Council's other
work. In this instance then the council has decided that it cannot provide
you with the information requested.

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees /
ex-employees (including teaching staff) who have agreed, following the
matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement
drawn up by the body acting as the Council's legal team, to sign and forgo
their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of
Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Oxfordshire County Council's standard form of compromise agreement does
not preclude former officers from making DPA or FOI requests.

Feedback

If you would like to feed back to the FOI Team, please email
[1][Oxfordshire County Council request email].

Help Us To get It Right

If you are dissatisfied with the service or response you have received you
can complain as follows:
 
o Use the online complaints form on our website -
[2]www.oxfordshire.gov.uk;
o Write to us at our FREEPOST address:

Complaints and Comments
Oxfordshire County Council
FREEPOST (SCE 7709)
Oxford OX1 1YA.
 
Please let me know if you have further enquiries. I would be grateful if
you could use the reference number given at the top of this email.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Rowan
Complaints & Freedom of Information Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
Law and Governance
County Hall
New Road
Oxford
OX1 1ND

Tel: 01865 816395
Fax: 01865 783195
Email: [email address]
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email] (for FOI requests)
Email: [email address] (for complaints)
Internet: [3]www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

This email, including attachments, may contain confidential information.
If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
Oxfordshire County Council. Council emails are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/emaildiscl...

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Oxfordshire County Council request email]
2. file://../3.04%20Information%20requests/3.16.02%20Requests%202006/Local%20Settings/3.16.02.08%20Requests%20August%202006/FOI%20344/www.oxfordshire.gov.uk
3. file://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

Dear Rowan, Sarah - Corporate Core - Democratic Services,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your position
however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL
English councils. So far, I have had 153 (one hundred and fifty
three) full and detailed positive responses. These councils did not
have any difficulty in responding to what they appeared to regard
as a reasonable request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to
assist and to make your task more manageable, can I make the
following reductions in scope?

Please can you exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to
between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 153 councils have not found any difficulty, I
imagine that they may be taking a different approach to searching
for the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should be keeping
an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too
arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for
compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep
a similar searchable database.

I hope the above information assists you. I don't believe that the
possession of an inadequate data storage / retrieval system
warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward
to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Oxfordshire County Council,

In accordance with your request, I made a further response on 2nd February, some weeks ago.

I'd appreciate it if you addressed the request contained in that message,

many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

FOI Team - Corporate Core, Oxfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I apologise for the delay in responding but please be assured that I am
actively dealing with your request and will get a response to you as
soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Rowan
Complaints & Freedom of Information Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
Law and Governance
County Hall
New Road
Oxford
OX1 1ND

Tel: 01865 816395
Fax: 01865 783195
Email: [email address]
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email] (for FOI requests)
Email: [email address] (for complaints)
Internet: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Team - Corporate Core,

Many thanks for your reply,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Rowan, Sarah - Corporate Core - Democratic Services, Oxfordshire County Council

Our reference: 2664 FOI

Dear Mr Cardin
 
Thank you for your request of 2 February 2011 in which you scoped down the
information you had requested on compromise agreements.

You asked to exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the following
circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)

You also narrowed the time period down to between the years 2005 to 2010
i.e. the last six years.

Unfortunately Oxfordshire County Council cannot meet your request for this
information as the cost of locating and retrieving the information
requested exceeds the "appropriate limit" of £ 450 for local
authorities, as stated in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.

Oxfordshire County Council maintains that it does not hold a central list
of employees who have signed compromise agreements and that to provide you
with the information you have requested would involve a member of staff
manually going through each individual employment-related file to
determine whether it involved a compromise agreement and identify the
reasons for the agreement. This would involve a significant cost and
diversion of resources from Oxfordshire County Council's other work. In
this instance then the council has decided that it cannot provide you with
the information requested.

However, we can provide the information you have requested for the period
1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010 for all staff (including teaching
staff). For this period, there were 22 compromise agreements directly
related to the resolving of disputes/grievances/internal and external
investigations/ whistleblowing incidents. This excludes agreements drawn
up in the following circumstance: 'purely redundancy situations, purely
PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations, equal pay claims, TUPE
situations, COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not
have been initiated').

Feedback

If you would like to feed back to the FOI Team, please email
[1][Oxfordshire County Council request email].

Help Us To get It Right

If you are dissatisfied with the service or response you have received you
can complain as follows:
 
o Use the online complaints form on our website -
[2]www.oxfordshire.gov.uk;
 
o Write to us at our FREEPOST address:

Complaints and Comments
Oxfordshire County Council
FREEPOST (SCE 7709)
Oxford OX1 1YA.
 
Please let me know if you have further enquiries. I would be grateful if
you could use the reference number given at the top of this email.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Rowan
Complaints & Freedom of Information Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
Law and Governance
County Hall
New Road
Oxford
OX1 1ND

Tel: 01865 816395
Fax: 01865 783195
Email: [email address]
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email] (for FOI requests)
Email: [email address] (for complaints)
Internet: [3]www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

This email, including attachments, may contain confidential information.
If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
Oxfordshire County Council. Council emails are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/emaildiscl...

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Oxfordshire County Council request email]
2. file://../3.04%20Information%20requests/3.16.02%20Requests%202006/Local%20Settings/3.16.02.08%20Requests%20August%202006/FOI%20344/www.oxfordshire.gov.uk
3. file://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

Dear Oxfordshire County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Oxfordshire County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'

Thanks for providing some of the information and for the time you have devoted to this.

Your decision not to release the information is unique for a number of reasons:

1. A large number of councils who returned a similar 'costs' exemption response were, like yourself, offered a subsequent reduction in the scope of the initial request. These councils went on to reconsider before proceeding with a full and detailed answer. Whereas you have provided figures for only one year.

Please take into account all the information I have submitted to date. To give you a picture of the wider context here, this request has been made to ALL English Councils above a certain size. To date, since 1st January 2011, 238 (two hundred and thirty eight) councils have responded positively and in full. We have had eleven years of FOI and I would have hoped that your council would have been working towards an effective data storage / retrieval system that works with the public interest at the centre of it. You have not advised me of any plans to do so and appear to be happy to continue maintaining an unresponsive system.

It is not right that the public suffers and obstacles are placed in the way of their information because you are persevering with the upkeep of a cumbersome data storage system. Particularly in light of the positive response from hundreds of your LGA colleagues.1st January 2011, by 208 local authorities.

I don't think that your position is an adequate justification for refusal.

I also believe that the public interest in releasing this information outweighs the public interest in not releasing it - regardless of the costs involved. Costs which seem to be occasioned by the detrimental (to the public) effect of your own inadequate systems.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

FOI Team - Corporate Core, Oxfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email asking for a review of the decision on your FOI
request.

The review is being undertaken by Glenn Watson, Principal Governance
Officer. He will respond to you by 25 March 2011.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Rowan
Complaints & Freedom of Information Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
Law and Governance
County Hall
New Road
Oxford
OX1 1ND

Tel: 01865 816395
Fax: 01865 783195
Email: [email address]
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email] (for FOI requests)
Email: [email address] (for complaints)
Internet: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Oxfordshire County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Oxfordshire County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

Please take into account all the information I have submitted to date.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Oxfordshire County Council,

We're now into April and I've heard nothing regarding the internal review.

Please can you reply and give an update on the situation? This request was initially made on 5th January, over 60 working days ago,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

FOI Team - Corporate Core, Oxfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin
I apologise that the internal review response has not come to you before
now. I confirm that this is actively being addressed and I will give you
a progress report by the end of Wednesday 13 April, if we have not sent
the final internal review response to you by that time.

I am sorry for the delay and can assure you that this matter is being
addressed.

Your sincerely

Glenn Watson
Complaints & Freedom of Information
Law & Governance
Oxfordshire County Council
County Hall
Oxford
OX1 1ND
Team: 01865 815906
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Team - Corporate Core,

Hi. I appreciate your action on this, but didn't receive anything today as promised,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI Team - Corporate Core, Oxfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin
Thanks for your email and apologies you did not receive this update
until today.

I have part-completed the response and have one more member of staff to
interview about it on Monday 18 April (she is on leave till then). I
want to be clear with officers exactly how the council's information
relating to your request is structured, bearing in mind your comment
that other authorities have responded. I need to be clear as to whether
the information 'exists' (ie is held in a recorded format which can be
said to meet your request under FOI without 'creating new information')
or whether it is indeed capable of being yielded in any case. I have
considered the issue from the perspective of our Legal Services team and
of accounts. The staff member I will speak with on Monday is responsible
for the human resources service.

I do not wish to give you a partial response but to consider the issues
in the round. I will therefore update you on Monday 18 April.

Yours sincerely,

Glenn Watson
Principal Governance Officer
Law and Governance
Oxfordshire County Council
County Hall
Oxford
OX1 1ND
Direct line: 01865 815270
[email address]

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Team - Corporate Core,

Thanks for the update and I look forward to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Watson, Glenn - Corporate Core - Democratic Services, Oxfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I confirm I've now spoken to the HR representative and can now finalise my
internal review response to you. I will let you have this by the end of
Wednesday 20 April.

Yours sincerely

Glenn Watson

Complaints & Freedom of Information
Law & Governance
Oxfordshire County Council
County Hall
Oxford
OX1 1ND
Team: 01865 815906
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email]

This email, including attachments, may contain confidential information.
If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
Oxfordshire County Council. Council emails are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/emaildiscl...

Dear Watson, Glenn - Corporate Core - Democratic Services,

Thanks for your update,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI Team - Corporate Core, Oxfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin
I am writing to you following my Internal Review into your freedom of
information request. Thank you for your understanding while this has been
prepared. I have looked at the requests you made (under the reference
2664) and how these were originally dealt with and the extent to which any
information could and (still) should be released to you.

In short, my conclusion is that the Council was correct in its view that
the provision of the information would have exceeded the 'appropriate
limit' within the Act (18 hours or £450); therefore the Council was not
obliged to comply with your request. I also consider that this continues
to be the case, even with the reduced scope of your follow-up request. I
do however think that the Council could perhaps have advised and assisted
you better under the Act and clarified your request at an earlier date and
perhaps offered to supply you with the most recent data (as was done
following your second request); or indeed asked if you wished to receive
figures for all compromise agreements (irrespective of category). I still
think it is right that the Council should ask you if you wish to receive
total figures of compromise agreements (without categories), even if the
Council cannot comply with your request(s) in their current form.

I note that the Council did fully answer the second point of your original
request (in which you asked for figures where persons had forgone the
right to make Freedom of Information or Data Protection Subject Access
requests). You did not raise any further point on that matter in your
follow-up request and I have therefore have not looked further at that
element of your request.

The following sets out the rationale for my conclusions and a more
detailed explanation of the Council's records in relation to this matter.

Chronology:
You made your original request on 5 January 2011 and the Council's
response was sent to you on 2 February. This response did not supply you
with the information about the numbers of compromise agreements because
complying with the request was deemed to exceed the appropriate limit of
18 hours or £450 of activity to locate and retrieve the information. It
was explained that the information did not exist in the form that you had
requested and that each case would need to be considered to see if it met
your criteria.

On the same day, 2 February, you acknowledged this response and sent
another request narrowing down the focus of your first request to exclude
those compromise agreements which came within five specified categories.
You also narrowed the time period down to the years 2005 - 2010.

On the 28 February, the Council responded to this second request restating
its view that compliance with the scaled down request would still exceed
the appropriate limit of 18 hours or £450 for the same reasons as
previously, i.e. that the Council does not hold records in a format which
would allow it to sift the compromise agreements by category: the files
would therefore need to be searched manually. However, the Council did
provide you with information from 1 January to 31 December 2010 based on
your scaled-down criteria, as this was made possible through a more
recently introduced case management system which contained flags, for
newer cases, which allowed the sifting of information for that period.

You responded on the 28 February requesting an internal review and
expressing your view that the council's systems should already be
sufficiently structured as to allow the production of the information
requested.

The commencement of an internal review was then communicated to you and I
am now responding formally to you in that regard. And again, I apologise
for the delay in supplying this to you.

Analysis of the requests and response
Effectively, you made two requests to the Council, each of which has been
responded to separately. The second request was a narrowed version of the
first. This internal review is looking at both requests. The first
request asked for information 'as far as records go back' and the Council
responded on the last working day of the 20 day period to inform you that
providing the information would exceed the appropriate limit. I consider
the Council could have explained that position earlier to you and sought
further clarification or a reduction in scope. The second request did
scope down the original request to exclude certain categories and to limit
the number of applicable years. The response was the same, although this
time the Council provided information relating to the most recent year.

The central issue to both of your requests is whether the Council actually
holds the information requested and, if it does, whether the costs of
locating, retrieving and extracting the information would exceed the
appropriate limit of 18 hours or £450 of activity, under the Act, as
the Council suggests. The Council was clear that it held the information
requested but only in the form of individual case files: the reason for
the compromise agreement was not, the Council maintained, held in any
other way. The task was therefore a matter of locating and retrieving
files and checking through them to ascertain if a compromise agreement was
involved and if so, whether it matched the circumstances of your request.

I have considered this afresh and, as you suggested, have had regard to
the records held by Legal Services, Accounts Payable and the Human
Resources service.

Having spoken to the Council's Human Resources manager, it is the case
that payroll information can be used to identify instances of a compromise
agreement having been paid, but not the circumstances of the case. The
payroll information is therefore used to identify the case file. Other
than for the year for which information was indeed supplied to you, the
remainder of the information is held by way of case files which therefore
require a manual search, looking either for a copy of the compromise
agreement itself or for paperwork confirming it. Prior to 2007, the
records have been electronically scanned en bloc, without division into
cases, making the time taken to locate, retrieve and extract, even
greater. It is also the case that Human Resources service do not need to
supply the Accounts team with any further details of the case other than
those needed to effect any relevant payments.

The Legal Services manager also confirmed that:

* Legal files are held in archives and may relate to compromise
agreements and therefore these would need to be retrieved and each
manually considered to determine why the Council entered into the
compromise agreement;
* Some cases settled by compromise agreement might also appear in the
unit's general files which would again necessitate a manual search
* It was only in the recent past that the Council's files recorded on
the face of the agreement what the settlement was for, previously this
was not the case and therefore the search would have involved analysis
of the correspondence of historic files rather than identification of
a particular, regularly-occurring record
* It is possible that there would be other employment cases which may
have been settled after proceedings - in which case to be sure that
all instances had been identified from this service's point of view,
employment cases generally would need to be checked to see if a
settlement had been involved and why.

The full list of (uncategorised) instances of compromise agreements known
about, for the periods of your request, is around 200. The appropriate
limit was assessed as between 15 and 20 minutes' perusal of each file,
which would easily be in excess of the 18 hour limit.

I continue to be of the view that the Council's records are such that to
locate, retrieve and extract the information requested would exceed the
appropriate limit and therefore that the Council does not need to comply
with your request. Even on a more conservative estimate of 10 minutes per
file, the limit would still be exceeded.

I conclude therefore that the purposes of the records which the Council
needs to maintain in order to process and record compromise agreements do
not accord with the nature of your request, nor is the information capable
of being extracted without exceeding the appropriate limit. I know you
consider that the Council's records should be organised differently and
cite instances where other authorities have provided information. However,
there were also instances where other authorities did not provide the
information for reasons similar to this Council's own: this is largely
immaterial as it is for this Council to assess its own recorded
information against the Freedom of Information Act requirements
irrespective of other authorities' responses. Nevertheless, insofar as
other authorities have likewise been unable to respond to your request
within the appropriate limit, for similar reasons, I think this
demonstrates that the Council's record keeping in this regard is not
unreasonable or unusual; and I think this has a bearing on the suggestion
in your email of 28 February that the Council is putting obstacles in the
way of transparency in this regard.

However, going forward, the Council's Human Resources manager confirms
that the recently introduced system, used to supply you with the
information given to you on 28 February, will be recorded in a more
searchable format in the future.

I therefore conclude that it is appropriate for the Council not to comply
with your requests as to do so would exceed the appropriate limit under
the Act.

However, if you are interested in receiving more general figures for
compromise agreements (not by category) for the years back to 2002, then
this can be considered. I think this should initially have been offered
to you in any case under the Council's duty to advise and assist you in
your request.

This concludes my internal review. If you remain dissatisfied with the
handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the
Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Telephone:0303 123 1113 Website: [1]www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Glenn Watson

Complaints & Freedom of Information
Law & Governance
Oxfordshire County Council
County Hall
Oxford
OX1 1ND
Team: 01865 815906
Email: [Oxfordshire County Council request email]

This email, including attachments, may contain confidential information.
If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
Oxfordshire County Council. Council emails are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/emaildiscl...

References

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

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Oxfordshire County Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying most of the information. This has been appealed with the Information Commissioner's Office.

Please link here to read about the further aspects of this request:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/page4.html

...including councils who have attempted to prevent individuals from exercising their statutory FOI / DP querying rights.

There is a growing trend for the use of compromise agreements, not just in the area of disputes or whistleblowing, but also in less controversial areas of redundancy, severance or equal pay claims. Some councils have yet to answer this query - and to date, 65 working days have elapsed.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here’s a piece of legal opinion from Senior Counsel Hugh Tomlinson QC, which appears to make more likely the prospect of public sector employers opting for Freedom of Information and Data Protection “gagging clauses” within compromise agreements; and thereby aiming to remove persons’ statutory rights to make data and information requests.

It has been an effective reputation management tactic, and a way of concealing the historical malpractice engaged in by employers when targetting whistleblowers or getting rid of people who’ve lodged grievances. The ruse has been deployed in the past by two councils; Cheshire West & Chester, and Brent.

The ICO are powerless to prevent it as the HT opinion implies that contract law takes precedence over a person’s statutory rights – which it appears can be surrendered. The ICO could only act if the recipient of any “ban” were to breach it and make an FoI or DP request of the relevant data controller – which is unlikely to occur because there’s always a “club over the head” of the signatory to the compromise agreement i.e. the threat of any monetary pay off being clawed back through the courts.

http://tinyurl.com/bu9vynx