Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Brent 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 Brent Borough Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Brent Borough Council, or as far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of Brent Borough 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 who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting as Brent Borough Council's legal team, to 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 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

Stephen F Williams, Brent Borough Council

Brent Council - INFORMATION REQUEST

Our Reference: 714596
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Dear Mr. Cardin

Thank you for your request for information received on 2 January 2011. We
aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Stephen F Williams,
for Brent ITU
[Brent Borough Council request email]

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The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

Dear Stephen F Williams,

By law, I believe the authority should have responded promptly and
by 1st February 2011.

Although I have received no response, to assist, I would like to
'sharpen' and reduce the scope of the original request as follows:

Please exclude all COT3 Agreements and all compromise agreements
drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (pay in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations

Further to this, please reduce the time period to the years between
2005 and 2010 i.e. the last six years.

I am researching this particular area and aim to view trends and
movements both regionally and nationally. It would benefit myself
and the authority if the figures reached were as accurate as
possible.

When responding, please give figures in calendar year format e.g.
2005 - 1; 2006 - 3; 2007 - 2; etc.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Stephen F Williams, Brent Borough Council

Brent Council - INFORMATION REQUEST

Our Reference: 714596
====================================================

Dear Mr. Cardin

I refer to the request for information you made on 2nd January and write
to respond and to apologise for the delay. I would also thank you for your
email of 2nd February which I refer to below.

Our response to your original request is to exempt it under Section 12 of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000, because we estimate that answering
the first part of the request is likely to exceed the Appropriate
Limit. For local government this is set at -L-450, giving 18 hours to
identify, locate, retrieve and extract relevant records. The Limit is
likely to be exceeded determining what if any information is held.

In relation to the second part of your request I am advised by Legal
Services that it is not the practice to require individuals to forgo their
right to approach the Council with requests under the Freedom of
Information Act / Data Protection Act. The Council can confirm however
that there was one case where an individual has signed such an
undertaking. We have supplied this information in accordance with the
requirement in the Section 45 Code of Practice to consider what
information, if any, can be provided within the 18 hour limit.

I am afraid your email of the 2^nd February came too late for us to take
account of in this response but I have asked Legal Services to let me know
whether any more of your revised request can be accommodated within the
limit and will write to you again when I hear back.

Please note that the information provided may be subject to copyright and
you may require further permission from the Council to re-use it. If you
require further guidance please write to the IT Standards Manager (contact
details below).

If you are dissatisfied with the response or how the Council has handled
your request you can complain to the Council by writing to the following
address: IT Standards Manager at Brent Council,Floor 5, 349-357 High Road,
Wembley HA9 6BZ, telephone 020 8937 1402, e-mail [Brent Borough Council request email]. It is
the Council's policy to ensure that, where practicable, your complaint is
dealt with by someone who was not involved in the original decision.

You also have a right of appeal about our decision to the Information
Commissioner, however, the Information Commissioner will not normally
consider an appeal until you have exhausted your rights of redress and
complaint to the Council. The Information Commissioner can be contacted as
follows:

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF; Telephone: 01625 545 700,
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk
Yours sincerely

Stephen F Williams,
For Brent ITU
[Brent Borough Council request email]

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The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

Dear Stephen F Williams,

Thank you for your response and for confirming that in one instance the council has attempted to restrict a person's statutory rights by aiming to prevent them from making FOI / DPA requests in the future. I understand that this is 'not the practice'.

I look forward to receiving the additional information as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Brent Borough Council,

Did you manage to contact Legal Services, and is there any progress on the further information that you told me you were following up some weeks ago?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Stephen F Williams, Brent Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email of 12th March reminding us that we were due to
come back to you. I can confirm that Legal Services have provided the
following further information:

Management information about Compromise Agreements in the form of a list
of individuals and brief description as to the background only go back as
far as December 2006. Accordingly we can supply the following

Year No of individuals who have signed termination agreements/COT3s

2006 1

2007 17

2008 40

2009 20

2010 23

2011 1 (as of 15^th February)

regards

Brent ITU

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The use of Brent Council's e-mail system may be monitored and communications read in order to secure effective operation of the system and other lawful purposes.

Dear Stephen F Williams,

I appreciate your assistance on this. However, if you refer to my email of 2nd February, I asked if you could exclude COT3s and compromise agreements drawn up in non-relevant circumstances.

As your figures look on the high side, could I ask you to exclude the COT3s and confirm whether you've excluded the other areas, before re-advising?

thanks again in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Williams, Stephenf, Brent Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I have checked with our legal department and can confirm that the figures as provided are on the basis of the exclusions requested in your earlier email.

I appreciate it would have helped if I had made this clear in the response.

Regards

Stephen Williams

for Brent ITU

349-357 High Road
Wembley
Middlesex
HA9 6BZ

020 8937 1426

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

This is an unusual and possibly unlawful situation. Further information and comment, including an ongoing appeal, links to media stories, status of FOI requests, and a "response" from the Local Government Association are at the following link:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/page4.html

The Information Commissioner's Officer have stated that the behaviour is likely to breach the Act. The council concerned have defended their actions.

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