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News and Comment January 2012

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6 January (Part 1) - The Information Commissioner gets tough

It has been possible to detect a gradual change in the tone of letters from the Information Commissioner in recent months when dealing with Bexley council’s repeated flouting of the law, their patience may be wearing thin. This extract from a letter dated 3rd January 2012 looks like confirmation…

“I have drafted a formal Information Notice today which is to be issued to the council within the next couple of days. This requires the council to supply a copy of the withheld information and detailed submissions as to why it has refused to disclose this information to you under the Act within a period of 30 days. The 30 days will commence from the date the notice is served.

I have proceeded straight to an Information Notice in your case instead of trying to obtain this information by less formal measures due to the council’s previous reluctance to supply the Commissioner with any information of the nature you requested.”

The Freedom of Information request in question is that referred to on 29 November 2011.

My Subject Access Request (SAR) submitted to Bexley council last May is still unanswered. The Information Commissioner gave them ten days to comply just before Christmas and the date for that expired yesterday - or arguably today if you accept Bexley council’s right to award themselves an extra Bank Holiday. Done properly, the SAR should give interesting clues to the identity of the obscene bloggers. If Will Tuckley doesn’t know who did that he is clearly not worthy of his enormous salary. I want to give him every chance to do the job properly so I sent the following today to Bexley’s FOI liaison officer.

You will no doubt be aware that the Information Commissioner instructed you to fulfill your obligations under the Data Protection Act and complete my Subject Access Request of last May by today.

However I appreciate that the ten days over Christmas and New Year is not the best time to ensure complete and thorough provision of information; I therefore do not propose to complain to the Information Commissioner for another ten days from today.

A minimum response would be…
1) All the correspondence by councillors and officials from January to April 2011 which led to Mr. Tuckley reporting me to Bexley police for "Criticising councillors at a personal level".
2) All the correspondence from early June 2011 when Mr. Tuckley and Council Leader O'Neill apparently intervened to ensure the removal of content from the obscene and homophobic blog, the blog being removed within hours of them becoming aware of it.
3) All the correspondence leading up to and following Mr. Tuckley’s 7th July 2011 meeting with police who were investigating the crime. The police reports confirm that I was one of three subjects of that meeting.

I trust a further ten days will give you ample opportunity to comply with the law.


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