Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to St Edmundsbury Borough 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 successful.

Dear St. Edmundsbury Borough 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

Points, Karen,

St Eds Borough Council entered 2 compromise agreements in 2008, and one in
2009.

Karen Points

HR Manager

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Dear Karen Points,

Please could you address the second part of my request i.e. has the council ever used gagging clauses preventing the signatory of a compromise agreement from exercising their statutory rights under FOI or DPA legislation?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Points, Karen,

Paul, I am able to confirm that SEBC has never used gagging clauses as detailed below in any compromise agreement.

Regards

K Points
HR Manager

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Dear Karen,

Thanks for your response.

In the last 20 working days, a total of 176 English Councils have been able to provide an answer to this. Can I provide you with another 5 working days in which to reconsider and respond?

Failing this, I may be forced, much against my better judgment, to go to internal review. My experiences dealing with councils are not always positive or endearing, but this is a very important question, and I want to be absolutely sure that there is no concealment going on.

In the meantime, whilst considering the above request, can you at least explain your thought processes, or the actions taken to lead you to this conclusion - one which is unique in 177 responses?

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Points, Karen,

Thx for your response. I have answered both aspects of your question, the answer to part 2 is none, we have never done so, as stated in my response today.

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Dear Karen,

SO SORRY !!!

I became word blind. I saw your response as 'unable to confirm'.

No excuses, but it's one of the damaging effects of writing and responding to over 300 councils that does this.... :-)

Thanks very much for your help and apologies again for the tone of the last email,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Points, Karen,

Apology accepted.

Karen

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

St. Edmundsbury Borough Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 20 working days (the statutory period) to respond positively and in full.

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 general redundancy 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