Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Torbay 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 Torbay Borough 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 - 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

Torbay Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request for Information made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 10
January 2011. We are currently processing your request under the terms of
the Freedom of Information Act, 2000 and will contact you within 20
working days.

In a small number of cases, the cost of fulfilling a request may exceed
the appropriate limit which is currently set at £450.00 and a fee may be
payable. If this is the case, we will stop processing your request and we
will endeavour to issue a fees notice within 10 working days. You will
then be required to pay this before we will proceed with your request. To
find out more about fees, please visit [1]www.torbay.gov.uk/foi-fees

If you have any queries about this email please do not hesitate to contact
us, quoting the reference number listed at the top of this email in all
communications.

Yours sincerely

Angela Hellier

Information Governance Officer

Torbay Council

Email: [email address]

Phone: 01803 207413

Mail:Information Governance, Torbay Council, Town Hall, Castle Circus,
Torquay TQ1 3DR

Find out more at: www.torbay.gov.uk/accesstoinformation

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Torbay Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Further to your request received on 10 January 2011, I confirm that Torbay
Council has completed its search for the information that you requested.

This information is as follows:

1. 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) / whistle blowing incident(s).

Year No of employees
2006 1
2007 1
2008 2
2009 8
2010 3
2011 0

2. 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.

The annual figure is nil.

Please note that the figures we are giving relate to core Council
employees only. To obtain the information regarding schools requests
should be made direct to each individual school. The contact details for
Torbay schools are available at: http://www.torbay.gov.uk/schoolslist.doc

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your
own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for
the purpose of news reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial
publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder.

Torbay Council publishes Access to Information requests and responses on
its online Disclosure Log. Only requests deemed to be in the public
interest will be included and any request included within this log will be
de-personalised accordingly.

To view the Council's Disclosure Log, please visit
[1]www.torbay.gov.uk/disclosurelog

If you have any queries about this email please do not hesitate to contact
me directly, quoting the reference number listed at the top of this email
in all communications.

If you are unhappy with the Council's response to your request and wish to
make a complaint please write to Information Governance, Town Hall, Castle
Circus, Torquay, TQ1 3DR or complete the on-line complaint form that can
be found at www.torbay.gov.uk.

If after going through the Council's complaints process you are still not
satisfied, you can contact the Information Commissioner direct.

Information Commissioner Helpline: 08456 30 60 60
01625 54 57 45
Wycliffe House
01625 545700
Water Lane Switchboard:
01625 524510
Wilmslow Fax:
www.ico.gov.uk
Cheshire SK9 5AF Website:
[email address]
Email (general):

Yours sincerely

Angela Hellier

Information Governance Officer

Torbay Council

Email: [2][email address]

Phone: 01803 207413

Mail:Information Governance, Torbay Council, Town Hall, Castle Circus,
Torquay TQ1 3DR

Find out more at: [3]www.torbay.gov.uk/accesstoinformation

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Torbay Borough Council were one of the quickest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 12 days 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