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Posted by: John Brace | 21st January 2015

What was my reply when Wirral Council's "Ministry of Truth" asked for 2 invoices on this blog to be erased?

What was my reply when Wirral Council’s “Ministry of Truth” asked for 2 invoices on this blog to be erased?

Jenmaleo,
134 Boundary Road
Bidston
CH43 7PH
18th January 2015
by email to surjittour@wirral.gov.uk
CC: joeblott@wirral.gov.uk

Mr. Surjit Tour
Head of Legal and Member Services and Monitoring Officer
Department of Transformation and Resources
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
Town Hall
Brighton Street
Wallasey
Wirral
CH44 8ED

Dear Mr. Tour,

Thank you for your email of 15th January 2015 sent at 16:38 with the subject “Blog posting of invoices” which is attached for reference at appendix A. You also attached to your email ICO guidance to s.32 of the Data Protection Act 1998 titled “Social networking and online forums – when does the DPA apply?” which can be read on ICO’s website at https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1600/social-networking-and-online-forums-dpa-guidance.pdf .

Please class this as a formal response to the issues you have raised in it. I have no problem with you sending a copy of this response to Dr Gareth Vincenti.

You refer in your opening paragraph to section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (in its amended form as it was later amended by s.160 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007). This is attached in full for reference at appendix B.

You state You were provided with copies of certain invoices in compliance with Section 15 (a) of the 1998 Act, which entitles you to make copies of all or any part of the accounts and those other documents.”

The issue of copying of documents (as you can read for yourself in appendix B which is a copy of the legislation) is dealt with by the Audit Commission Act 1998 section 15(1)(b), as section 15(1)(a) deals with a right to inspect documents, not to copy documents. Therefore this sentence in your email should read Section 15(1)(b), not Section 15(a).

You go on to state “In redacting certain parts of those invoices, the Council relied on Section 15 (3A) of the Audit Commission Act 1998, as amended, which relates to personal information.”

If you read s.15(3A) of the Audit Commission Act 1998, as amended (attached as appendix B) you will find the definition of personal information in s.3A is “(3A) Information is personal information if–

(a) it identifies a particular individual or enables a particular individual to be identified; and
(b) the auditor considers that it should not be inspected or disclosed.”

It is important to note that the way the legislation is phrased it is not down to Wirral Council to make the ultimate decision as to whether information that may or may not fall within the definition of personal information as defined by section 3A should or shouldn’t be inspected or disclosed, but that decision is to be made by Wirral Council’s auditor who is for the financial year in question (2013-14) was Grant Thornton UK LLP.

It has not been determined yet whether Wirral Council asked its auditor Grant Thornton UK whether any of the information on the invoice in question should not be inspected or disclosed and if so what Grant Thornton UK LLP’s decision on this matter was.

Appendix C is a communication to Wirral Council’s external auditor in an attempt to clarify whether this took place.

On the 19th January 2015 I received a reply from Wirral Council audit Grant Thornton UK LLP. As you may or may not be aware the current engagement lead at Grant Thornton UK LLP is different to the engagement lead at Grant Thornton UK LLP for the 2013/14 audit. I can confirm that Grant Thornton UK LLP however are making enquiries and will respond as soon as they can.

If there has been an oversight and Wirral Council did not ask its external auditor to make a determination in relation to the many redactions it made to the hundreds of invoices I inspected and received copies of, I would hope that that arrangements could be made to inspect and copy the information I was incorrectly denied access to inspect and receive copies of last year.

You state later in your email:

The Council considers that it may be necessary to report this matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office and Dr Vincenti may wish to take his own action in connection with your disclosing his personal data

I will deal with the two interrelated matters raised here in relation to what you refer to as “personal data” of Dr Vincenti’s.

His surname “VINCENTI” is mentioned at the top of the invoice. Not redacted on the copy invoice supplied by Wirral Council is the phrase “Invoicing by Midex Pro for Dr Vincenti”. It is also stated that “cheques are to made payable to Dr. Vincenti”. Two addresses are also used on the invoice to send cheques to, one is a document exchange “DX 720874 Northallerton”, the sort code of 54-10-41 (which relates to a specific branch of a bank) is provided on the invoice for BACS payments and an email address of garethvincenti@btinternet.com is also given.

Dr Gareth Vincenti discloses his own email address, along with other contact details such as the address for correspondence on his website here [drvincenti.co.uk/contact.htm (at the time of writing this link worked however Dr Vincenti’s website is down as of 19th March 2015)]] . The document exchange address is published here http://www.expertsearch.co.uk/cgi-bin/find_expert?4052 and also elsewhere online.

Neither the sort code, nor the document exchange reference fall under s.3A as neither identify a particular individual or enable a particular individual to be identified as both would be used by multiple individuals.

You refer in my email to my right to inspect the invoice. Section 34 of the Data Protection Act 1998 deals with information available to the public under inspection by another enactment (in this case s.15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998).

As it is short I will quote it here:

34 Information available to the public by or under enactment.

Personal data are exempt from—
(a) the subject information provisions,
(b) the fourth data protection principle and section 14(1) to (3), and
(c) the non-disclosure provisions, if the data consist of information which the data controller is obliged by or under any enactment other than an enactment contained in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to make available to the public, whether by publishing it, by making it available for inspection, or otherwise and whether gratuitously or on payment of a fee.

As to the invoice in question, the “personal data” of Dr Vincenti as you put it was available for inspection because of s.15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998, therefore s.34(c) of the Data Protection Act 1998 applies. It has not been established whether the auditor made a determination that any of it fell within the meaning of “personal information” in section 3A. Therefore at this stage, as you have not provided any evidence that the auditor made such a determination it means such “personal data” is exempt from the non-disclosure provisions that you refer to in your email.

You also state in your email that “which additions include the address of an employee/or former employee of the Council which is capable of amounting to personal data and in the context of the invoice capable of amounting to the processing of sensitive personal data.”

The address you refer to was a partial address. Had it been a complete address including house number, it could be argued that it would fall under the definition of personal information (as defined by s.15(4) of the Audit Commission Act 1998 see appendix B) which states that in order to qualify as personal information, the information “relates specifically to a particular individual”.

There are 60 different addresses in Forwood Road and 22 addresses that match that particular postcode. Wirral has a average household population of 2.17 per a household. Therefore the partial address could potentially relate to one of an estimated 48 individuals.

A partial address, without a house number does not therefore “relate specifically to a particular individual” nor does it enable a particular individual who may live at one of these addresses to be identified. It relates to a large group of individuals. Therefore it falls outside the definition of “personal information” as defined by s.4(1)(a) as it is not information that relates specifically to a particular individual.

Section 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998 on journalism, literature and art also applies here. I state my belief as data controller that I believe that having regard in particular to the special importance of the public interest in freedom of expression, publication of both the original invoice, a copy of the invoice with some of the text from the original invoice highlighted in green and this response including appendices to the response is in the public interest.

A very similar complaint to ICO was made in 2011 about a blogger called Derek Dishman who blogs under the nom de plume of “Mr Mustard” by Barnet Council. The exchange between Barnet Council and ICO can be read here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/94886/response/237295/attach/2/R%20IRQ0426076%20ICO%20Barnet%20correspondence%20re%20ENQ0391446.pdf . To summarise ICO disagreed with Barnet Council’s incorrect assertions about this blogger (which seem broadly similar to those made by Wirral Council).

Finally you state “I do not consider that your right to inspect and the right to have copies made of relevant documents, then entitles you to disclose such documents to the public”.

I hope I have outlined (in much detail above) as to why you are incorrect in that assertion. This issue of the purposes to which information obtained by third parties using their rights to inspect and have copies of information held by local councils during the audit has already been dealt with at a previous judicial review case.

I refer you to R (HTV Ltd) v Bristol City Council [2004] 1 WLR 2717 which I have recently read. I quote from Elias J, the High Court Judge in that matter:

55. The premise here is that the provision requires the information to be used for a limited purpose or purposes. As I have indicated, I accept that Parliament probably did envisage that the information would be primarily in order to enable electors to raise questions with the auditor and ultimately raise objections. But the fact that those who have access to this information extend beyond those who can make such a request, or raise such an objection, shows that it cannot be the only purpose.

56. In any event, there is no express limitation in the statute as to the use to which this information can be put. I see significant practical difficulties as to confining the use of the material once it has been acquired.”

Finally, my last two points are as Wirral Council is the data controller for the complaint made to it by Dr Gareth Vincenti which refers to me, please class this response as a request exercising my right under s.7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 for a copy of Dr Gareth Vincenti’s complaint.

I further point out that due to what is referred to above I am exercising my right under s.10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and request that Wirral Council confirm it will immediately cease to process further any personal data about myself in relation to the complaint made by Dr Gareth Vincenti or your email for the reasons outlined above as raising this issue in the way it has been is causing distress.

Yours sincerely,

John Brace

 

 

Appendix A (email from Surjit Tour to John Brace dated 15th January 2015)

from:

Tour, Surjit <surjittour@wirral.gov.uk>

to:

john.brace@gmail.com

date:

15 January 2015 at 16:38

subject:

Blog Posting of Invoices

mailed-by:

wirral.gov.uk

Dear Mr Brace,

I refer to your inspection of documents under Section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998, in connection with the audit of the Council’s accounts for the financial year ending March 2014. You were provided with copies of certain invoices in compliance with Section 15 (a) of the 1998 Act, which entitles you to make copies of all or any part of the accounts and those other documents. In redacting certain parts of those invoices, the Council relied on Section 15 (3A) of the Audit Commission Act 1998, as amended, which relates to personal information.

I do not consider that your right to inspect and the right to have copies made of relevant documents, then entitles you to disclose such documents to the public nor does it entitle you to alter the Council’s redacted documents, which alteration constitutes processing of data. The Council has received a complaint from Dr Gareth Vincenti concerning a posting made on your blog on 1 December 2014 entitled:

Do you want to know what 6 redacted legal invoices paid by Wirral Council on employment matters (including one from a consultant psychiatrist) state?

This posting included the copy of an invoice from Dr Vincenti which had been redacted by the Council. You had posted a second copy of the invoice, having altered part of the redactions to include information in green. You state on the blog posting:

I’ve supplied both the original and a partly redacted copy of this as the original is heavily redacted. My additions are in green”.

I have had regard to the guidance of the Information Commissioner’s Office,Social networking and online forums – when does the DPA apply?”

I consider that by altering the Council’s redactions to include additions in green, you have potentially processed personal data in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998, which additions include the address of an employee/or former employee of the Council which is capable of amounting to personal data and in the context of the invoice capable of amounting to the processing of sensitive personal data. I do not believe that you are entitled to rely on the exemption contained in section 36 of the Data Protection Act 1998, in that I consider you are using social media for non-domestic purposes. Section 36 contains an exemption for personal data that is processed by an individual for the purposes of their personal, family or household affairs. I am therefore requesting that you remove from your blog both copies of the invoice from Dr Vincenti immediately.

The Council considers that it may be necessary to report this matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office and Dr Vincenti may wish to take his own action in connection with your disclosing his personal data and the address referred to above.

Yours sincerely

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

Department of Transformation and Resources

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Town Hall

Brighton Street

Wallasey

Wirral

CH44 8ED

Tel: 0151 691 8569

Fax: 0151 691 8482

Email:surjittour@wirral.gov.uk

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk

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This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and

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This footnote also confirms that this email message has been swept by

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www.clearswift.com

Appendix B
Section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (as amended by s.160 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007)

15 Inspection of documents and questions at audit

(1)At each audit under this Act, other than an audit of accounts of a health service body, any persons interested may—
(a)inspect the accounts to be audited and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to them, and
(b)make copies of all or any part of the accounts and those other documents.

(2)At the request of a local government elector for any area to which the accounts relate, the auditor shall give the elector, or any representative of his, an opportunity to question the auditor about the accounts.

(3)Nothing in this section entitles a person—
(a)to inspect so much of any accounts or other document as contains personal information within the meaning of subsection (3A) or (4); or
(b)to require any such information to be disclosed in answer to any question.

(3A) Information is personal information if–

(a) it identifies a particular individual or enables a particular individual to be identified; and
(b) the auditor considers that it should not be inspected or disclosed.

(4) Information is personal information if it is information about a member of the staff of the body whose accounts are being audited which relates specifically to a particular individual and is available to the body for reasons connected with the fact—
(a)that that individual holds or has held an office or employment under that body; or
(b)that payments or other benefits in respect of an office or employment under any other person are or have been made or provided to that individual by that body.

(5)For the purposes of subsection (4)(b), payments made or benefits provided to an individual in respect of an office or employment include any payment made or benefit provided to him in respect of his ceasing to hold the office or employment.

Appendix C – Email to external auditor Grant Thornton

 

from:

John Brace<john.brace@gmail.com>

reply-to:

john.brace@gmail.com

to:

Robin Baker <robin.j.baker@gt.com>

cc:

“Chris Whittingham (Grant Thornton)” <c.whittingham@uk.gt.com>

date:

18 January 2015 at 18:48

subject:

query about whether Grant Thornton gave permission to Wirral Council during the 2013/14 audit for personal information on invoices should not be inspected/disclosed


Dear Robin Baker & Chris Whittingham,

During the 2013/14 audit I exercised my inspection rights to inspect various invoices and receive copies of them for the 2013/14 financial year under s.15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998.

Last Thursday I received an email from Wirral Council that stated “In redacting certain parts of those invoices, the Council relied on Section 15 (3A) of the Audit Commission Act 1998, as amended, which relates to personal information.”

S.15 (3A) of the Audit Commission Act 1998 was amended in 2008 to state:

“(3A)Information is personal information if—

(a) it identifies a particular individual or enables a particular individual to be identified; and

(b) the auditor considers that it should not be inspected or disclosed.”

Could you confirm that as Wirral Council’s auditor at the time whether a determination was made by the auditor that personal information on an invoice for £3,060 from a Dr Gareth Vincenti dated 31st December
2013 was made and if so which elements on the invoice the auditor considered should not be inspected or disclosed?

Could you also confirm as Wirral Council’s auditor at the time whether any determination was made by the auditor about personal information on any of the invoices I requested for the 2013/14 year was made and
if so the particular invoices and particular information that the auditor considered should not be inspected or disclosed?

If the auditor was not asked to make any such a determination could you state this too?

Thanks,

John Brace

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Responses

  1. G’day nhoJ

    How did “The Shyster” get your email address right?

    Ooroo

    semaJ

  2. Are we sure its 2015 and still not in 2014!

    • Thanks for pointing that error out. Yes the email was sent in 2015, about something in 2014. I put 2014 as the date of the email by mistake, but have corrected it.

  3. 666feeK

    We are still waiting for justice about Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods since 2011 so a year is neither here nor there.

    tiG riS sent out 147,000 wrong so that makes it “OnitnarraT” +1 tiG riS
    -147,000.

    ooroO

    semaJ

  4. Dont ever, no never MESS

    with the learned pugilist BRACE,

    • An interesting comment.

      At Wirral Council it’s not usually what’s happened that makes me cross, what makes me cross is the cover up and conspiracy of silence that has always proved so disastrous in the past.

      • G’day John

        What are you doing lad?

        They will never employ you at Wirral if you admit you made a mistake.

        You are spot on about the conspiracy of silence but they are now asking for evidence they have already had which shows they just bring in an auditor with the alphabet after his name and then ditch him before he tells them anything.

        The big problem for them now is Gra Gra brought them out to lie in public.

        Ooroo

        James

        “The Football Shirt” can be proven to be a liar liar pants (football shirt) on fire.

        It will just get worse the longer they continue “Highbrow” still has more in his vast locker.

        • Better just to admit mistakes, apologise, then do your best to correct them.

          If I was an employee at Wirral Council it would be a complete conflict of interest with what I do for a living.

          In the past I’ve seen people do their best to deflect blame from high profile individuals and try organisational failings all blamed on a scapegoat in a court case in order to delay/minimise things for reputational reasons.

          Do you think DCLG have asked for some of the grant money back, Wirral Council have said no (as it would be used as an admission they did something wrong) so the whole thing will end up with DCLG suing Wirral Council?

          • G’day John

            I know you would be to decent to work for the current Wirral.

            If the DCLG have not asked for money back the country has some really really serious problems.

            An example is that”Highbrow” asked in an FOI for an explanation of some invoices and they don’t have the backing sheets.

            Very very convenient.

            So why didn’t they just ask for copies from the punter like any half efficient office boy/girl would do?

            Why did they feel like they had to tell untruths in public in front of Gra Gra?

            There seems to be a bit of panic this morning my friend even before you had your cornflakes young genius.

            Emails before sparrows fart.

            They suddenly want evidence that they have already had.

            I hope they have a terrible day and how much will be wasted on more meetings on Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods?

            As you know John Enterprise Solutions is on the way out that is how long this has all been neglected. So they need to act soon.

            Ooroo

            James

            Why didn’t they just act three and a half years ago when I went to see them and blow the whistle and “Highbrow” and I could just go off and play table tennis.

            I am like the “Football Shirt” and can’t play chess very well.

            By the way Lockwood is still on the agenda.

  5. G’day John

    This is the FOI that is causing emails before sparrow’s fart.

    From: nigel hobro

    10 April 2014

    Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

    1935 30/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team WIRRALBIZPLUS –
    SEPTEMBER Development work for September development 900 -1
    1935 30/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team WIRRALBIZPLUS –
    SEPTEMBER Development work for September development 1800 -1
    1897 10/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development Work
    for August 9 Full days @ £300 development 2700 -1
    1897 10/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development Work
    for August 4 Half Days @ £150 development 600 -1
    1868 05/08/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development work
    July6 Half Days @ £150.00 development 900
    1868 05/08/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team 8 Full days @ £300
    development 2400
    1820 20/07/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Wirralbiz
    development work June6 Full Days5 Half Days development 2550
    1737 11/05/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team wirralbizplus
    Development work – enhancing client services via development 4800

    The above invoices were rendered to WBC at late summer 2009. They
    represented work done by one particular subcontractor of wirralbiz.
    The face of these invoices refer to Development work but with no
    further detail.

    Counter fraud has already summoned up these invoices from your data
    silo in the last weeks . However although a promise has been made
    to inform me of the details, nothing has been forthcoming.

    I ask you to describe:

    1. who authorised the payment of the above invoices
    2. what development work was done? For example was it preparing a
      bid for the ISUS contract (granted August 2009) or was it for some
      other purpose?

    Yours faithfully,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    john hardaker left an annotation (11 April 2014)

    As a qualified accountant you know all the in’s & out’s of the scandal which Wirral council & it’s officers are trying to cover up & as noted by your former college Mr G it is now over a thousand days since you started this enquiry at the cost of both your jobs by whistle blowing the frauds you had uncovered.
    Obviously the above figures are the tip of the iceberg so why not publish all the details of the fraud you know about & the names of the fraudsters which will force the council into answering you well founded allegations. We know who the villians are on all sides so why not bring the council out into the open & force them to tell the truth .Good luck with you quest.

    Link to this

    nigel hobro left an annotation (11 April 2014)

    John that is done already when on the 1000th day every Councillor and most importantly , John Brace and wirralleaks, received a pivot table for each year and a commentary.

    Essentially the WBC has studiously avoided opening up the pre ISUS period(pre October 2009) but once the data went out the manifest absurdities of the data itself has compelled Joe Blott finally to summon up invoices from the data silo from 5 years plus ago

    It is regrewttable that I felt compelled to do so but as each month passed the culprits’ getaway was speeding up.

    With power comes responsibility.

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (13 April 2014)

    G’day Mate

    Instead of parking Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods case with police why can’t all those overpaid legal geniuses do civil action. Hundreds of thousands of pounds stolen!

    Or…..

    Instead of picking on people who are poverty stricken.

    Should be easy for that man that was courted and feted at the Public Improvement Board Meeting, you know the man with the alphabet after his name.

    Ooroo

    James

    Link to this

    From: Corrin, Jane
    Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

    8 May 2014

    Dear Mr Hobro,

    I refer to your request for information contained in your email of 10
    April 2014. Your request for information was as follows:-

    Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

    1935 30/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team WIRRALBIZPLUS – SEPTEMBER
    Development work for September development 900 -1
    1935 30/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team WIRRALBIZPLUS – SEPTEMBER
    Development work for September development 1800 -1
    1897 10/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development Work for
    August 9 Full days @ £300 development 2700 -1
    1897 10/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development Work for
    August 4 Half Days @ £150 development 600 -1
    1868 05/08/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development work July6
    Half Days @ £150.00 development 900
    1868 05/08/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team 8 Full days @ £300
    development 2400
    1820 20/07/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Wirralbiz development
    work June6 Full Days5 Half Days development 2550
    1737 11/05/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team wirralbizplus
    Development work – enhancing client services via development 4800

    The above invoices were rendered to WBC at late summer 2009. They
    represented work done by one particular subcontractor of wirralbiz.
    The face of these invoices refer to Development work but with no further
    detail.

    Counter fraud has already summoned up these invoices from your data silo
    in the last weeks . However although a promise has been made
    to inform me of the details, nothing has been forthcoming.

    I ask you to describe:

    1. who authorised the payment of the above invoices
  6. what development work was done? For example was it preparing a bid for
    the ISUS contract (granted August 2009) or was it for some
    other purpose?

  7. Yours faithfully,

    1. You have asked who authorised payment of the above invoices. I
      consider that the information requested is exempt information under
      Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I consider that the
      disclosure of the requested information would contravene the first data
      protection principle, that personal data shall be processed fairly and
      lawfully, and shall not be processed unless at least one of the conditions
      in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998 is met. The only potentially
      relevant condition in Schedule 2 is Condition 6 (1), namely:-“The
      processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued
      by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data
      are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any
      particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms of
      legitimate interests of the data subject “

    I consider that the disclosure of this information would be processing of
    personal data which processing would be unwarranted by reason of prejudice
    to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject
    ,namely the identity of the employee who authorised the payment. I do not
    consider that such processing would be necessary for the purposes of
    legitimate interests pursued by yourself as a third party, being a member
    of the public. I have had regard to the recent decision of the Court of
    Appeal in Edem and the Information Commissioner and The Financial Services
    Authority {2014, EWCA Civ 92) . The issue in that appeal was whether
    disclosure of the names of three junior officials could be withheld on the
    grounds that it was personal data and that disclosure of that information
    would contravene the first principle of the Data Protection Act 1998
    “Personal data is data which relates to a living individual “who can be
    identified””.(Lord Justice Moses-Paragraph 40 of the decision). I consider
    that supplying information as to the identity of a junior employee, who
    authorised payment, amounts to supplying personal data. This is an
    absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test.

    1. The development work referred to in the invoices quoted in your
      request for information was to provide an enhanced business start
      programme in the Council’s most deprived wards of Seacombe, Birkenhead,
      Leasowe,Tranmere and Bidston.This involved six additional
      counselling/mentoring sessions and a discretionary business start grant of
      up to £2000 per business starter

    I am therefore refusing part of your request for information on the basis
    that the exemption contained in Section 40(2) of the Freedom of
    Information Act 2000,applies. You have the right to ask for an internal
    review. This should be sent to [1][email address] or in writing
    to Jane Corrin, Legal and Member Services, Town Hall, Brighton Street,
    Wallasey, CH44 8ED.

    You also have the right to complain further to the Information
    Commissioner, whose address is the Information Commissioner’s Office,

    Wycliffe House,

    Water Lane,

    Wilmslow,

    Cheshire SK9 5AF

    [2]www.ico.gov.uk

    Sent on behalf of

    Rosemary Lyon,

    Solicitor,

    Legal and Member Services,

    Transformation and Resources,

    Wirral Council

    This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
    protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free
    to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
    are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
    example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
    involve licensing and the application of a charge

    show quoted sections

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    Link to this
    From: nigel hobro

    8 May 2014

    Dear Corrin, Jane,

    I am afraid to answer that I have good reason to not believe the
    paragraph below

    ” 2. The development work referred to in the invoices quoted in
    your
    request for information was to provide an enhanced business start
    programme in the Council’s most deprived wards of Seacombe,
    Birkenhead, Leasowe,Tranmere and Bidston.This involved six
    additional
    counselling/mentoring sessions and a discretionary business start
    grant of
    up to £2000 per business starter”

    The advisor concerned met with two individuals during the summer of
    2009 who had received £2,000 grants .
    The postcodes of all interviewees who met the advisor mentioned
    were as follows:

    CH41-48 ; 35 interviews

    CH60 -CH64 14 interviews

    The sum of these 49 interviews could only be £4,900 at £100 a time
    and not the figures of £16,850 represented by the invoices quoted.

    I also doubt the veracity of your answer because it contradicts a
    telephone conversation with a Counter Fraud officer who had the
    invoices before him and admitted there was no way of knowing what
    they were concerning.

    A further doubt is that the awards of £2,000 ceased in early summer
    2008, a fact again once discussed with a counter Fraud officer.

    For the reasons above I am referring this FOI for an Internal
    Review and here I express my anger as to why you will not answer
    this faithfully

    Yours sincerely,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    James Griffiths left an annotation ( 9 May 2014)

    G’day Mate

    When do you think it will SINK IN that you have all the evidence and the data base that you have given to Grant Thornton and DCLG. Derrrr

    Ooroo

    James

    Link to this

    nigel hobro left an annotation ( 9 May 2014)

    Another reason for not believing your answer to be fair is your answer to rthe FOI of mine regarding “asset Transfer”

    This was answered by you two weeks ago and for the Fieldcrest invoices, two of those mentioned above, you answered as follows:

    “With regard to the invoices 1820 and 1868, the Council has been unable to locate the schedule that was attached to invoice 1820 as indicated on the invoice”

    You most certainly were not so positive as you have pretended to be in the response to this FOI, Therefore I have no confidence in your answer

    Link to this

    From: nigel hobro

    2 June 2014

    Dear Corrin, Jane,
    Relative to these invoices one partial way of answering these
    queries is to provide the cost code of these invoices.

    For example in another invoices from Enterprise solutions for
    hoylake Community Centre an endorsement of

    H8800 R499 42535 was made on the rubber stamp.

    The provision of the codes with a narrative as to what they mean
    for the Fieldcrest development invoices would give a snapshot of
    what the posting officer believed at the time the invoices were for

    Yours sincerely,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    From: nigel hobro

    25 June 2014

    Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

    I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan
    Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Wirralbiz invoices to
    WBC’.

    I have good reason to hold that the answer contains an untruth with
    respect to the invoices being for a special scheme for deprived
    wards with grants of £2,000. I have in annotations explained why
    this is not feasible and repeat it is from the database I took for
    the purposes of proving fraud that I can be confident of this.

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

    Yours faithfully,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    James Griffiths left an annotation (15 July 2014)

    G’day “Highbrow”

    Was this the one that promises were made to answer this yesterday?

    Ooroo

    James

    Link to this

    ScarletPimpernel left an annotation (15 July 2014)

    One part of the code is the cost centre it is assigned to.

    Link to this

    john hardaker left an annotation (16 July 2014)

    Reading Paul Cardins latest “wirral in it together” blog it would appear “PLOD” ie Merseyside police have cleared Wirral Council that There is no case answer, despite the mountain of evidence from messers Horbro & griffiths, God help us if plod investigates a murder the result will be “No case to answer” if the murderer was a council employee or a councillor.

    Link to this

    nigel hobro left an annotation (16 July 2014)

    John just look at the isus summary Grant Thornton now on the wbc website. It is not just my evidence but that collated by Grant Thornton.

    WBC have held onto this report since March 2013 and no wonder as GT complaints are directed substantially to bad practice by WBC and WBC failure to provide documentation.

    The police probably have not the resources which they explained to me in July 2013. Nowhere do they write that they dont think there was fraud. The officers who visited me expressed that the case was ridden with fraud but that WBC had laid itself wide open to fraud , they repeatedly warned them on oter cases and if one party leaves their wallet on a cafe table they are invviting someone else to take it.

    Link to this

    ScarletPimpernel left an annotation (17 July 2014)

    Well I was critical of their stonewalling (both Wirral Council and Merseyside Police) last year, see BIG/ISUS Reports: Wirral Council and Merseyside Police in “Alice in Wonderland” http://johnbrace.com/2013/10/04/bigisus-… .

    Fraud is a very difficult thing to prosecute because of its complex nature, in fact it was put forward as one of the reasons not to have jury trials in some cases. Therefore any fraud case the police have to make sure the evidence is there and can be explained.

    Link to this

    nigel hobro left an annotation (28 July 2014)

    If Fieldcrests invoices were for preparing the mini tender , the one that got away! in the Great Escape of contracts, then the tender rules of ERDF will have been broken giving rise to an automatic penalty of over 25% which would be nearly 1/4 m pounds.

    Hence the obduracy and perhaps also the ring-fencing of Fieldcrest Ltd. Any prosecution of the latter re M L engineering ltd could lead to unpleasant disclosures costing hundreds of thousands of pounds regarding ISUS.

    Something unusual is preventing the prosecution of the clearest case of fraud in the whole pack of jokers.

    Link to this

    From: nigel hobro

    28 July 2014

    Dear Corrin, Jane,

    This one has also gone today to the Information commissioner as I
    have good reason to believe that the response contains a direct
    lie.

    Yours sincerely,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    john hardaker left an annotation (29 July 2014)

    Hi Nigel talk about trying to get blood out of a stone, one day hopefully in the near future blood &heads will be flowing down the steps of Brighton street when the corruption will eventually be uncovered, you & Mr G know the facts yet the police like Captain Nelson hold the telescope to their blind eye & like the councillors see nothing.I hope for both your sakes that you will both be vindicated I look forward to the follow up on this tragic saga.

    Link to this

    nigel hobro left an annotation (30 July 2014)

    Jonathan am sorry to correct a fellow follower of truth! Certainly Nelson had been a Captain but at Copenhagen where the “I see no signal ” incident occurred he was a Vice Admiral!

    I appreciate your comments and certainly this has been a tragic saga for those concerned but there is now light, fiasco and farce and some fun!

    WBC has been transformed from a formidable Lucifer to a figure of fun rather as in Paradise Lost. The same features are there as in Milton’s great poem where Satan is left to rule over hot marl and ashes and I am sure his motto resonates with Brighton Street

    “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!”

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (16 October 2014)

    Why are we waiting mate?

    Ooroo

    James

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (26 October 2014)

    Maybe this week “Highbrow”.

    Oh no school holidays.

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation ( 7 November 2014)

    Another week “Football Shirt”.

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (14 November 2014)

    Another week“Graham Burge(r with the lot plus super duper car and 7 mistakes http://goo.gl/znBccO in 29 seconds)ss’” and yours are running out.

    Link to this

    From: Corrin, Jane
    Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

    17 November 2014

    Dear Mr. Hobro,

    Case References FS50549551 and FS50549553

    Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

    I refer to the Information Notice issued by the ICO on 2 October 2014 and
    to the earlier letter dated 13 August 2014, in respect of the two
    complaints referred to above.

    Case References FS50549551

    The Council has revisited the request for information (originally made on
    8 April 2014) and has decided to amend its position.

    You had asked for “a breakdown of the money disbursed on wirralbiz plus
    under headings such as

    Disbursement per pro clients

    Accountancy services

    Marketing support

    General advice”

    Background

    The information requested by you relates to a Business Start Programme, in
    respect of which Working Neighbourhood Funding was made available to
    augment an earlier programme with additional business start services in
    the Council’s most deprived wards to tackle worklessness and low skills
    and enterprise. This came in the form of additional one to one sessions
    with would be entrepreneurs, enhanced marketing and business start up
    grants of up to £2000. The service was branded Wirralbiz +. This programme
    was extended from April 2008 to October 2009 and the Council had entered
    into contractual arrangements with a company in respect of the provision
    of services in connection with this Wirrabiz + programme.

    The Council had indicated to you that in connection with invoices paid to
    that company that the Council did not hold the information under the
    headings you requested. Having made enquiries with the most appropriate
    persons within the department by whom the invoices were processed, the
    Council has carried out electronic searches within the Council’s
    accounting system having regard to how the invoices would be coded,
    against a specific code. This exercise has produced a large volume of
    spreadsheets, with the payments to the relevant company and other
    organisations being included under one code.

    To locate any further information regarding monies disbursed in respect of
    Wirral Biz plus, the Council would need to retrieve individual invoices,
    using these spreadsheets as a starting point. Having regard to these
    payments having been made in 2008-2009, and such invoices having been
    archived, I consider that the cost of complying with your request, would
    exceed the appropriate limit and therefore the Council now seeks to amend
    its response and rely on the exemption contained in Section 12 (1) of
    FOIA.

    The Council has had regard to the provisions contained in the Freedom of
    Information and Data Protection Regulations (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
    Regulations 2004 in revisiting its decision. The costs that would be
    involved in locating the invoices and determining whether any of the
    information requested is held, and also retrieving the invoices would
    exceed the appropriate limit of £450. I consider that the time spent on
    the permitted activities, at the flat rate of £25 per hour will exceed 18
    hours work for the Council. It is estimated that it would take
    approximately 28 hours work to ascertain the relevant invoices from the
    coding, find them, retrieve them and consider whether any of the
    information requested by you is contained in the invoices. The Council
    cannot make any further electronic searches in its accounting system,
    having searched against the relevant code. The Council has also had
    regard to the following guidance issued by the ICO:-

    “Requests where the cost of compliance with a request exceeds the
    appropriate limit.”

    Case Reference FS50549553

    Part 1 of the request

    The personal data is that of a former employee who was authorised to make
    payments under the Working Neighbourhood Funding Scheme. The former
    employee took early retirement over two years ago. The withheld
    information is the identity of the authorising officer and I confirm that
    the information relates to the individual’s public life at that time.

    The Council still seeks to rely on the exemption contained in Section 40
    (2) of FOIA. I consider that the information requested in respect of who
    authorised the payments of the invoices is exempt information under
    Section 40 (2) of FOIA, in that you are asking for information which is
    personal data, in respect of which you are not the data subject. I
    consider that the disclosure of the requested information would contravene
    the first data protection principle, that personal data shall be processed
    fairly and lawfully, and shall not be processed unless at least one of the
    conditions in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998 is met. I
    consider disclosure of the requested information would have an unjustified
    adverse effect on the former employee of the Council, who was not a senior
    officer and who would have a legitimate expectation that his personal data
    would not be disclosed to a member of the public. I do not consider that
    any of the conditions in Schedule 2 would be met and particularly
    Condition 6 of Schedule 2, in that the processing would be unwarranted by
    reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of
    the data subject. I do not consider that such processing would be
    necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by you, as a
    third party, being a member of the public

    I have considered whether there is a legitimate public interest in
    disclosure and balanced this against the rights of the former employee.

    I consider that disclosure of the information requested would cause an
    unwarranted interference with a former employee’s rights, which outweighs
    any legitimate interests pursued by you as a third party. I consider, as
    detailed above that the first data protection principle would be breached
    if the withheld information was disclosed, the former employee having a
    strong legitimate expectation that his personal data would not be
    disclosed to a member of the public and I consider that any such
    disclosure would be unfair and not a lawful processing of his personal
    data.

    The former employee in question has not been asked whether they are
    willing to consent to the disclosure of their personal data, as they took
    early retirement from the Council over two years ago

    I refer to Paragraphs 21 and Paragraph 22 of the ICO guidance in respect
    of requests for data about public authority employees

    Paragraphs 21 and 22 provide as follows:-

    Paragraph 21

    “The interest in disclosure must be a public interest, not the private
    interest of the individual requester. The requester’s interests are only
    relevant in so far as they reflect a wider public interest. This is
    because, when information is disclosed under FOIA, it is effectively
    disclosed to the world at large, not only to the requester. “

    Paragraph 22

    “Under the DPA the exercise of balancing the rights and freedoms of the
    employees against the legitimate interest in disclosure is different to
    the public interest test that is required for the qualified exemptions
    listed in section 2(3) FOIA. In the public interest test, there is an
    assumption in favour of disclosure because the public authority must
    disclose the information unless the public interest in maintaining the
    exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. In the case of
    section 40(2) the interaction with the DPA means the assumption is
    reversed; a justification is needed for disclosure. “

    I consider there is no justification for disclosing who authorised payment
    of the invoices. I consider that it is also relevant to have regard to the
    consequences for the former employee. If the withheld information were to
    be disclosed, there would be a further processing of the individuals
    personal data by you.

    Part 2 of the request

    The information provided already to you in respect of Part 2 of the
    request was provided by the manager, who had overall oversight at that
    time of the Working Neighbourhood Scheme. You have had access to a large
    volume of information which was made publically available in connection
    with a meeting of the Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee which
    took place on 6 October 2014, which related to a national Business Support
    Programme rolled out across England in October 2009 and which continued
    until 2011.

    See link below

    [1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc…

    The Council considers that the allegations made by you, in your email to
    the Council dated 8 May 2014 are unfounded. As stated in the response to
    the other Complaint, the Working Neighbourhood Funding had been available
    and continued until the national scheme (ISUS) commenced in October 2009.
    I consider that apart from the information already supplied to the you in
    response to Part 2 of the Request, that the Council is entitled to rely on
    the exemption contained in Section 41 of FOIA in that if the Council
    supplies any further information to the you in connection with the
    invoices referred to in his request, it would constitute a breach of
    confidence actionable by both the sub-contractor referred to by you and
    the company providing services under the Working neighbourhood Funding
    Scheme. I consider that providing further information regarding
    development work to you in the context of allegations made by the
    Defendant would expose the Council to a breach of confidence claim by both
    the sub-contractor and the company.

    I consider that the public interest would not be served by disclosing
    further information to you. You have already expressed doubt as to the
    veracity of the Council’s response, which if repeated the Council would
    consider vexatious. I do not consider that you have a legitimate interest
    as a member of the public in being giving further information than already
    supplied. The public interest in contractors and sub-contractors having
    confidence that public authorities can keep information confidential
    outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

    Yours sincerely

    Jane Corrin

    Information and Central Services Manager

    Transformation and Resources

    Wirral Council

    [2][email address]

    show quoted sections

    References

    Visible links
    1. http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc
    http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc
    2. mailto:[email address]

    Link to this
    From: nigel hobro

    18 November 2014

    Dear Corrin, Jane,

    You now alter your grounds for refusal!!

    Well you do have the relevant accountancy codes (pointed to by your
    numerous spreadsheets) so without further serious expense you could
    share either

    !. the spreadsheets

    2, the dates and amounts and codes therewith.

    I will privately then undertake in conjunction with the data that I
    hold to analyse the Wirralbiz+ data.

    I will share this request with the Information Commissioner.My
    email address for the spreadsheets( containing information that you
    now provide in the public domain as “payments over £500”) is

    [email address]

    Thanking you in anticipation , and also for the collation work you
    already appear to have done

    Nigel Hobro

    Yours sincerely,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    From: nigel hobro

    19 November 2014

    Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

    I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan
    Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Wirralbiz invoices to
    WBC’.

    whilst not complaining re your use of section 40(2) I consider the
    residual FOI unanswered and do not believe that it would cost you
    £450 to extract the list of invoices as below:

    1935 30/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team WIRRALBIZPLUS –
    SEPTEMBER Development work for September development 900 -1
    1935 30/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team WIRRALBIZPLUS –
    SEPTEMBER Development work for September development 1800 -1
    1897 10/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development Work
    for August 9 Full days @ £300 development 2700 -1
    1897 10/09/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development Work
    for August 4 Half Days @ £150 development 600 -1
    1868 05/08/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Development work
    July6 Half Days @ £150.00 development 900
    1868 05/08/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team 8 Full days @ £300
    development 2400
    1820 20/07/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team Wirralbiz
    development work June6 Full Days5 Half Days development 2550
    1737 11/05/2009 2009 Neighbourhood Renewal Team wirralbizplus
    Development work – enhancing client services via development 4800

    the above represent 5 invoices so I request copies of the same as
    it is impossible that it will take WBC 18 hours to find them and
    the backing sheets to them since your counter fraud iofficer Garym
    Lambert has already took them out of the data silo.

    Again to prevent undue delay I have shared this with the
    Information Commissioner.

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

    Yours faithfully,

    nigel hobro

    Link to this
    James Griffiths left an annotation ( 2 December 2014)

    8 Refused 3 Awaiting Internal Review 2 Long Overdue
    8 Partially Successful. Says it all Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods stinks.

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (10 December 2014)

    G’day

    Maybe the next CEO will be decent enough to answer this “Highbrow”?

    Ooroo

    James

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (13 December 2014)

    G’day
    Only 18 sleeps to answer this Gra Gra.

    Ooroo

    James

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (21 December 2014)

    All “Highbrow” wants for Xmas is one FOI answered!!!

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (30 December 2014)

    Only one sleep left Gra Gra you’d better get busy.

    Ooroo
    James

    Will miss you X

    Link to this

    James Griffiths left an annotation (12 January 2015)

    C’mon “He who can talk for twenty……….” show the public you should get the job and answer this.

    Ooroo

    James

By: James Griffiths on 23rd January 2015
at 10:50 am


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