Unfair schizophrenia within the ICO

Information Commissioner's Office did not have the information requested.

Dear Information Commissioner's Office,

According to section 2(2) the FOIA 2000, legal advice held by a public authority should not be disclosed to a requester if 'in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information'.

This is therefore a qualified exemption and not an absolute exemption. It says nothing more than this.

In some replies to section 42 (legal professional privilege) FOI requests the ICO state the following:

'Only in VERY EXCEPTIONAL cases can this [legal professional privilege] be overridden when considering where the public interest lies.'

And in other replies the ICO states:

'...the Commissioner does NOT consider that the public interest considerations need to be exceptional in order to overturn [override] the strong public interest in maintaining the exemption' [legal professional privilege].

The Commissioner has a deeply schizophrenic and unfair approach to section 42 cases. Either release of withheld legal advice should only occur in VERY EXCEPTIONAL cases or it should only occur, according to section 2(2) of the FOIA, when the public interest favours disclosure. The FOIA 2000 nowhere mentions extreme exceptionality as a pre-requisite for disclosure.

Could the ICO now please provide me with all recorded documents where this extreme exceptionality is mentioned/directed/indicated. If there is no recorded documents on this matter I would remind the ICO that it has a duty under the FOIA 2000 to assist and advise. This assistance and advice should include explaining why the ICO repeatedly adopts two quite divergent approaches - explicit extreme exceptionality versus explicit renunciation of extreme exceptionality - to section 42 cases.
This is a highly serious matter, because such an inconsistency and arbitrariness of approach is deeply unfair to the public.

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

Information Access Inbox, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO we will contact
you as soon as possible if we need any further information to enable us to
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more information please visit:

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If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
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Yours sincerely

The Information Commissioner’s Office

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[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

M Boyce,

You are entirely correct. This organisation is shambolic and needs replacing with something that does actually deal effectively with data breaches. It’s an absolute joke and another quango giving the illusion of transparency and accountability.

The minute they realise they’ve provided you with information that doesn’t favour the organisation’s wrongdoing they want to end the call.

They are utterly one sided to protect the controller but really tie themselves in knots when they can’t follow their own guidance. And conveniently have long backlogs designed not to deal promptly with data breaches of course; which is neither use nor ornament really.

What a complete waste of public funding : pointless toothless and follow the yellow brick road...to find the so called powers of the great wizard of OZ hiding behind the curtain blowing smoke & interchanging semantics...you couldn’t make this nonsense up.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Victoria Soeder,

I completely agree.

It is extremely worrying that such a deficient organisation is tasked and publicly financed to deal with freedom of information and data protection issues. One minute they seem quite content to fine companies like British Airways hundreds of millions of pounds for data breaches and the next minute they are doing everything they can to protect government departments and government quangos from proper scrutiny and from being held to account for wrongdoing. Such unfair and often arbitrary behaviour should not be tolerated by the tax-payer who expects their taxes to be spend wisely, fairly and efficiently. The ICO are certainly not wise, not fair, and not efficient.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

M Boyce

A simple apology from one wrongdoing now comes a great cost to taxpayer because of these vacuous regulators.

They are ALL cut from the same cloth, use the same sewing method to stitch the public up. The minute a person makes a simple a bona fire complaint they enter into a very dark Labyrinth of deceit as wrongdoing cascades like an aggressive strain of cancer throughout an organisation then explodes like a volcano to regulators with No other purpose than to ‘neutralise’ the complainant. They are all Truly toxic but like Titanic they will all surely sink. Their non sense is becoming more and more transparent because much as they try to make a mockery of the public with their idiocy they actually are starting to look quite ridiculous.

It’s a shocking sign of austerity and it’s time the governments and courts take serious action against these puppeteers because their levels of sheer non sense is frankly out of control. Words no longer mean what they mean and everything is not interpreted but grotesquely twisted and its morally bankrupt now. It is one merry go round of hide wrongdoing at all costs including breaking the law as if its as normal as having a cup of tea.

I will never understand how the individuals dealing with matters lost their moral compasses to lie at all costs.

Information Commissioner's Office

7 August 2019

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0857968

 

Dear M Boyce

This is a response to your recent request for information, which we
received on 13 July 2019.
 
We have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
Your request
 
Your email to us reads in part: ‘Either release of withheld legal advice
should only occur in VERY EXCEPTIONAL cases or it should only occur,
according to section 2(2) of the FOIA, when the public interest favours
disclosure. The FOIA 2000 nowhere mentions extreme exceptionality as a
pre-requisite for disclosure.
 
Could the ICO now please provide me with all recorded documents where this
extreme exceptionality is mentioned/directed/indicated.’
 
We have considered the section in bold to be a formal request for
information under the FOIA.
 
Our response 
 
Having consulted relevant senior staff at the ICO, and checked the
relevant internal guidance documents held by us, I can confirm that we do
not hold records which fall under the scope of your request.
 
Advice and assistance
 
You can see the ICO’s general guidance on section 42 of the FOIA [1]via
our website.
 
You can also [2]search the decision notices we have issued to see those
cases which involved section 42 of the FOIA. This will allow you to read
the rationale for our decisions on these case.
 
Section 8 of our [3]service guide provides some general information on the
way FOI complaint cases are processed.
 
Historic decisions on appeals brought to the Information Rights Tribunal
are [4]publically available online – they may contain further useful
information on the issue you have identified. You can search to a level of
detail which allows you to identify appeals specifically related to the
legal professional privilege exemption.
 
Next steps
 
I hope this response is clear. If you would like me to clarify anything
about the way your request has been handled please contact me.
 
You can ask us to review the way we have handled your request. Please see
our review procedure [5]here.
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the way we have handled your request
following an internal review you can [6]report your concern to the
regulator.
 
If you wish to contact me, please quote the reference number at the top of
this email. If you reply to this email please leave the subject field
unchanged.
 
More information about the Information Commissioner’s Office and the
legislation we oversee is available on our website at [7]www.ico.org.uk.
For information about what we do with personal data see our [8]privacy
notice. Our retention policy can be found [9]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Aiden Clarkson
Senior Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office

 
 

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Dear Information Commissioner's Office,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Information Commissioner's Office's handling of my FOI request 'Unfair schizophrenia within the ICO'.

Your response is exactly what I expected it would be: evasive and unhelpful at best.

You offer as advice and assistance information that I already clearly have and clearly must have had in order to make this particular FOI request. That is not helpful - it is obstructive.

I asked you to provide advice and assistance in the form of explaining why the ICO has a completely arbitrary and unfair approach to FOIA section 42 exceptionality or non-exceptionality in terms of disclosure of legal advice. You completely swerved this issue.
I will provide some DN's for your assistance.

Examples of DN's where disclosure of legal advice under section 42 is predicated on being ' very exceptional':

FS50821780

FS507942284

FS50788785

FS50745784

Examples of DN's where disclosure of legal advice need NOT be exceptional:

FS50803813

FS50788438

FS50695861

There are also many examples of the First-tier Tribunal rebuking the ICO for claiming that disclosure of legal advice under section 42 'can only occur in very exceptional cases'.

I expect the ICO internal review to be nothing more than sham, but please be assured that I will take this case to Tribunal as soon as I receive your reply.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

Information Access Inbox, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO we will contact
you as soon as possible if we need any further information to enable us to
answer your request. If we don't need any further information we will
respond to you within our published, and statutory, service levels. For
more information please visit:

[1]https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/our-inf...

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

If you are concerned about the way an organisation is handling your
personal information, we will not usually look into it unless you have
raised it with the organisation first. For more information please see our
webpage ‘raising a concern with an organisation’ (go to our homepage and
follow the link ‘for the public’). You can also call the number below.

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days. 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

For more information about our services, please see our webpage ‘Service
standards and what to expect' (go to our homepage and follow the links for
‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to expect'). You can
also call the number below.

For information about what we do with personal data see our [2]privacy
notice.

If there is anything you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Yours sincerely

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter can be found
[3]here.

Twitter

Find us on Twitter [4]here.

 

References

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4. http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

Information Commissioner's Office

8 August 2019

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0857968

 

Dear M Boyce

I write in response to your correspondence of 7 August, in which
you request an internal review.
 
I will now set up a review case and pass it to an appropriate member of
staff in the Information Access team.
 
We aim to respond within 20 working days, counting from today, the day
after you submitted your request. This is in accordance with our
[1]internal review procedure.
 
More information about the Information Commissioner’s Office and the
legislation we oversee is available on our website at
[2]https://ico.org.uk.
For information about what we do with personal data see our [3]privacy
[4]notice. Our retention policy can be found [5]here.

Yours sincerely
 
Aiden Clarkson
Senior Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office

 

 

References

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5. https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...

Information Commissioner's Office

4 September 2019

 

Case Reference Number RCC0864536

 

Dear M Boyce

Review of response to information request
 
I write further to your email of 7 August in which you requested a review
of the handling of your request dealt with under the reference number
IRQ0857968. I can confirm that I have had no prior involvement in the
handling of this request.
 
I can also confirm that I uphold our response as provided. The FOIA
entitles individuals to copies of recorded information held by a public
authority unless an appropriate exemption applies, not to conversations
regarding any decisions it has arrived at with which you disagree.
 
As Aiden Clarkson explained in our response, every complaint we handle is
considered on its own merits. We consider each case in line with the
legislation, with our own guidance, and the facts relating to each case.
 
Mr Clarkson provided advice and assistance and directed you to various
sources of information. I consider that our response to your request is
satisfactory and I am sorry to confirm that accordingly do not uphold your
complaint regarding it.
 
I understand that this response will not be what you wish to receive,
nevertheless I hope it is clear. Should you believe that we have not
applied the provisions of the FOIA correctly you can make a formal
complaint with the ICO in its capacity as the regulator of the
legislation. This cannot be done through WDTK, but can be done via the
weblink reproduced below. [1]https://ico.org.uk/concerns/

Yours sincerely
 
 

Danny Langley
Information Access Service Manager
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 0330 414 6784  F. 01625 524510  [2]ico.org.uk  [3]twitter.com/iconews
For information about what we do with personal data see our [4]privacy
notice.
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M Boyce left an annotation ()

The ICO don't want to supply the information because if they did it would show that when they predicate disclosure of information under section 42 of the FOIA on extreme exceptionality they are not acting in accordance with the law. I aim to challenge this illegal behaviour via the First-tier Tribunal with my appeal against a decision from the PHSO.