Friday, 8 April 2011

Freedom of Information Fail

Had another FoI decision back from the Information Commissioner's Office. Unfortunately, and somewhat bizarrely in my opinion, my complaint was not upheld.

Well I say it wasn't upheld but in fact it was partially upheld in as far as the breached s.10 of the FoIA because the response was delayed but that kind of goes without saying these days. The bit they didn't uphold was the important bit and demonstrates considerable gullibility on the ICO's part.

The case was about NCC's decision to appoint consultants Dunbar and Boardman to look after the council's lifts. I'd got most of the info including how much they were paying but I wanted a copy of the decision to hire them which NCC said they didn't have. The ICO decided to believe them on 'the balance of probabilities'.

Now I know it's hard to prove a negative but let's put this in the context of NCC's conduct throughout the case. Remember that they initially claimed that no consultants had been appointed, before having to contradict themselves at review when I pointed out that I knew Dunbar and Boardman were on board. They also claimed that no accidents had occurred, forgetting about the nasty Viccy Flats one which had just featured in the Post (and which is still under investigation by the HSE as far as I know).

Now have a read of the ICO investigator's account of his attempts to get this last bit of info from NCC, in particular para 21 -

Looks like a bit of a runaround doesn't it? Kind of a bit like they were trying to avoid the issue and hoping it would go away.

Yet, when NCC finally says that there is no decision, despite this record of ahem, 'inaccuracy' and evasive behaviour, despite the fact that it is highly unlikely that a council would simply hand over £3.3k per month without there being a paper trail, the ICO accepts this.

I wonder how much money is thrown around without a record being kept?

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