Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Staffordshire Moorlands District 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 Staffordshire Moorlands District Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the followig:

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 - 1; 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

Freedom Of Information Officer (SMDC), Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Thank you for your e-mail. Should a response be required, this will be
sent to you within the next 20 working days (working days being Monday to
Friday, excluding Bank Holidays). If you need to contact the Council, in
the meantime, our contact details are given below.

Thank you.

Jenny Atherton
Freedom of Information Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
Tel: 01538 395623
Fax: 01538 395559
E-mail: [1][Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

FOI (SMDC), Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

2 Attachments

Please find attached the Council's response to your information request.

Regards

Jenny Atherton
Freedom of Information Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands D. C.

Tel: 01538 395623
Fax: 01538 395559
E-mail: [Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear FOI (SMDC),

Thanks for the information.

I believe you are incorrect to suggest that the declaration of small numbers risks identifying individuals, and this is for 2 reasons:

1. I am engaged in ongoing research in this area, querying all English Councils, with the aim of observing trands and movements nationally. To date, since 1st January 2011, I have received 181 full and positive responses to my request - the large majority of these responses have openly declared small figures (1s and 2s) as part of the range of numbers stated.

2. A balance has to be struck between the risk of identifying persons, and that of satisfying the public interest when addressing reasonable requests made under Freedom of Information. I believe in this instance the public interest outweighs the negligible risk of identifying individuals.

I would appreciate it if you took the above into account, re-considered and advised me of your decision as soon as possible,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI (SMDC), Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Thank you for your e-mail. Should a response be required, this will be
sent to you within the next 20 working days (working days being Monday to
Friday, excluding Bank Holidays). If you need to contact the Council, in
the meantime, our contact details are given below.

Thank you.

Jenny Atherton
Freedom of Information Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
Tel: 01538 395623
Fax: 01538 395559
E-mail: [1][Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

Dear FOI (SMDC),

Thanks for the STOCK response, but I believe your automated response system needs to be modified, as it is inappropriate in these circumstances.

I don't believe you qualify for another 20 working day period of grace.

I look forward to your response as soon as possible,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI (SMDC), Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Thank you for your e-mail. Should a response be required, this will be
sent to you within the next 20 working days (working days being Monday to
Friday, excluding Bank Holidays). If you need to contact the Council, in
the meantime, our contact details are given below.

Thank you.

Jenny Atherton
Freedom of Information Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
Tel: 01538 395623
Fax: 01538 395559
E-mail: [1][Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

Dear FOI (SMDC),

Just checking to see whether you've amended your blanket response system (which very few other councils use by the way)

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI (SMDC), Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Thank you for your e-mail. Should a response be required, this will be
sent to you within the next 20 working days (working days being Monday to
Friday, excluding Bank Holidays). If you need to contact the Council, in
the meantime, our contact details are given below.

Thank you.

Jenny Atherton
Freedom of Information Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
Tel: 01538 395623
Fax: 01538 395559
E-mail: [1][Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

Evans, Jonathan, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,
Response attached for your attention.
Regards,
Jonathan Evans
Head of Legal and Democratic Services & Deputy Monitoring Officer for the
Alliance of
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and High Peak Borough Council
tel: 01538 395457
[1][email address]

Privacy and Confidentiality Notice
This e-mail (including its attachments, if any) is confidential and
intended solely for the addressee(s). It may also be protected by legal
professional privilege. It (and its attachments) must not be placed on a
file available to the public. If you are not an intended recipient you
must not read, copy, distribute, discuss or take any action in reliance on
it. Instead, please delete it from your system, destroy any hard copies
and notify us as soon as possible by return e-mail or on the telephone
number above. Thank you.

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. [email address]
file:///tmp/outbind:/68-0000000039D8F2075DF6A945B4241F499C8EC3BF0700A82222DB963ADB48B7251364536188D000000003027400001018E0BEC8A64F41B1B0C0B838507699000009310C070000/[email address]

Dear Staffordshire Moorlands District Council,

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

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

Please re-check my email of 7th February. I did not request an 'internal review'. However this IS a
request for an internal review.

I am not requesting personal information - just total annual figures for compromise agreements - which I and hundreds of your LGA colleagues do not class as 'personal information'.

Given that my research is moving onwards and a total of 238 councils have responded positively and in full to an identical question, I believe you are wrong not to provide annual figures and that hundreds of your LGA colleagues appear to agree with me. Because this is not personal information, the public interest in releasing total annual figures outweighs the risk of identifing individuals. I believe that this test of the public interest applies to all councils, regardless of their size, because the risk of identifying individuals is exceedingly small.

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 (SMDC), Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Thank you for your e-mail. Should a response be required, this will be
sent to you within the next 20 working days (working days being Monday to
Friday, excluding Bank Holidays). If you need to contact the Council, in
the meantime, our contact details are given below.

Thank you.

Jenny Atherton
Freedom of Information Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
Tel: 01538 395623
Fax: 01538 395559
E-mail: [1][Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Staffordshire Moorlands District Council request email]

Evans, Jonathan, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please find attached letter in response to your e-mail.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Evans
Head of Legal and Democratic Services & Deputy Monitoring Officer for the
Alliance of
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and High Peak Borough Council
tel: 01538 395457
[1][email address]

Privacy and Confidentiality Notice
This e-mail (including its attachments, if any) is confidential and
intended solely for the addressee(s). It may also be protected by legal
professional privilege. It (and its attachments) must not be placed on a
file available to the public. If you are not an intended recipient you
must not read, copy, distribute, discuss or take any action in reliance on
it. Instead, please delete it from your system, destroy any hard copies
and notify us as soon as possible by return e-mail or on the telephone
number above. Thank you.

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. [email address]
file:///tmp/outbind:/68-0000000039D8F2075DF6A945B4241F499C8EC3BF0700A82222DB963ADB48B7251364536188D000000003027400001018E0BEC8A64F41B1B0C0B838507699000009310C070000/[email address]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying most of the information.

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