After 2 reasons for refusing a FOI request are overturned by ICO decision notices, Wirral Council just picks another!
In March 2013 I made a Freedom of Information Act request to Wirral Council. You can view it on the whatdotheyknow.com website here.
Yesterday I had another refusal at internal review by Mr. Tour of Wirral Council of the part of the request that still remains outstanding.
This was after ICO (the Information Commissioner’s Office) intervened with decision/enforcement notice FS50509081 on the 28th September 2014 and followed by decision/enforcement notice FS50569254 on the 25th July 2015.
However parts 15, 18, 19 and 26 of the request were refused by Wirral Council again.
All those four parts of the request have been withheld because Wirral Council decides that section 36 (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) is engaged. The minutes of the Safeguarding Reference Group (part 26) have an additional reason for refusal because of section 40 (personal information).
I of course plan to appeal this latest refusal to ICO again (which probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone). Essentially however the problem I face to do with this request (which may be familiar to those who make FOI requests and have more experience than I do).
Public body decides on a reason to refuse a FOI request initially and at internal review (this stage could take up to 60 days). ICO disagree with the reason and issue a decision notice requiring the public body not to use that reason for refusing that request and to either provide the information or another reason.
So the public body comes up with another reason. That reason is challenged at internal review (again adding another 60 days). That reason is then appealed to ICO who disagree with the reason and ICO issue another decision notice.
The public body picks another reason to refuse the request and eventually it becomes a merry-go-round. The public body clearly really doesn’t want to give up the information, yet ICO is giving the public body a loophole each time a decision notice is issued by giving them a chance to pick another reason.
This Youtube clip (it should play at the bit that’s relevant) sums up how I feel about this latest development in this FOI request.
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