Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Durham 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 successful.

Dear Durham County Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

As far as records go back, annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of Durham County 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 Durham County 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

Neale Boswell, Durham County Council

Our Ref: 4815401

04-JAN-11

Dear Mr Cardin,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

I acknowledge your request for information received on 03-JAN-2011.

Your request is currently being considered and if the information
requested is held by the County Council it will be sent to you within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or
containing a reference to a third party.

If appropriate, the information will be provided in paper copy, normal
font size. If you require alternative formats, e.g. language, audio,
large print, etc. then please let me know.

For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions that may
prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the exempt
information will not be released. You will be informed if this is the
case, including your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.

There may a fee payable for this information to cover photocopying,
postage and any other production costs. This will be considered and you
will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must be paid
before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time
limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

In line with the Information Commissioner's directive on the disclosure of
information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 your request will
form part of our disclosure log. Therefore, a version of our response
which will protect your anonymity will be posted on Durham County Council
website.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact:

The Information Management Team

Durham County Council

Assistant Chief Executive's Office

Room 4/140

County Hall

Durham

DH1 5UF

Tel. 0191 372 8371

Email: [Durham County Council request email]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 745

Fax: 01625 524 510

Email: [email address]

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Neale Boswell

Information Management

show quoted sections

Freedom of Information, Durham County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please clarify whether it is all compromise agreements that you require -
anyone who has ever raised an ET claim or left under Early
Retirement/Voluntary Redundancy with an outstanding grievance back until
1974, or is it just whistleblowers?

Regards,

Neale Boswell

Information Management

Durham County Council

From: Neale Boswell
Sent: 04 January 2011 08:37
To: '[FOI #56492 email]'
Subject: Freedom of Information request 4815401

Our Ref: 4815401

04-JAN-11

Dear Mr Cardin,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

I acknowledge your request for information received on 03-JAN-2011.

Your request is currently being considered and if the information
requested is held by the County Council it will be sent to you within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or
containing a reference to a third party.

If appropriate, the information will be provided in paper copy, normal
font size. If you require alternative formats, e.g. language, audio,
large print, etc. then please let me know.

For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions that may
prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the exempt
information will not be released. You will be informed if this is the
case, including your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.

There may a fee payable for this information to cover photocopying,
postage and any other production costs. This will be considered and you
will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must be paid
before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time
limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

In line with the Information Commissioner's directive on the disclosure of
information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 your request will
form part of our disclosure log. Therefore, a version of our response
which will protect your anonymity will be posted on Durham County Council
website.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact:

The Information Management Team

Durham County Council

Assistant Chief Executive's Office

Room 4/140

County Hall

Durham

DH1 5UF

Tel. 0191 372 8371

Email: [Durham County Council request email]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 745

Fax: 01625 524 510

Email: [email address]

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Neale Boswell

Information Management

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Please include the following:

ALL compromise agreements except those written up for redundancy alone. If it's redundancy AND an outstanding / resolved grievance, please include.

Please exclude COT3 (Tribunal) claims and settlements.

In order to make the task easier, please restrict to the last 6 years i.e. between 2005 and 2010,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Durham County Council,

The above message was a response to a question Mr Boswell raised which was removed from the site whilst I was replying to it.

I hope this clarifies the request for you,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Durham County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for the clarification and I have forwarded it to the relevant service of the authority who will be handling your response.

Regards,

Neale Boswell
Information Management
Durham County Council

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

If it makes the task more straightforward, please also exclude any compromise agreements drawn up in the following situations?

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

many thanks for your time on this,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Durham County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT - RESPONSE TO REQUEST

Please accept our apologies for the late response to your request for
information relating toTotal Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements,
etc. received on 3 January 2011, which has now been considered.

Please see our response attached.

Yours sincerely

Christine Paciorek

Freedom of Information Officer

Durham County Council

Room 4/140

County Hall

Durham

DH1 5UF

Tel: 0191 3728370

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Many thanks for your detailed response.

I am very grateful that you have supplied total figures for compromise agreements between 2009 and the present day. Also that you have answered the question regarding attempts to restrict persons' statutory rights regarding future FOI / DPA requests.

I accept that it might be difficult to compile figures for separate authorities who previously did not come under the governance of the larger authority.

However, I'd appreciate it very much if you could break down the declared figure into annual totals and re-advise. I'm hopeful that this will not prove too difficult given that you have now reached what looks like a manageable figure,

many thanks in advance

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Durham County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin ,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT - RESPONSE TO REQUEST

Your request for additional information on Compromise Agreements etc.
received on 10 February 2011, has now been considered. Please see our
response attached.

Yours sincerely

Christine Paciorek

Freedom of Information Officer

Durham County Council

Room 4/140

County Hall

Durham

DH1 5UF

Tel: 0191 3728370

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Durham County Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 37 working days (15 over 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