In response to a FOI request Wirral Council pulls a rabbit out of a hat and the invoice mysteriously disappears!

John Booth with white rabbit

In response to a FOI request Wirral Council pulls a rabbit out of a hat and the invoice mysteriously disappears!


John Booth with white rabbit
John Booth with white rabbit

Above is a picture of a magician with the famous white rabbit out of a magician’s hat trick. First the hat is empty, then the magician makes the white rabbit appear out of nowhere.

Wirral Council seem to be wanting to pull a similar magic trick when it comes to this FOI request. Let’s just recap what Wirral Council have stated so far.

On the 21st April 2015 Wirral Council refused this FOI request for the fees notes (note plural) on the basis of legal professional privilege (you can read the full text of that refusal here).

On the 11th June 2015 Wirral Council at internal review refused this FOI request for the fees notes (note plural) on the basis of commercial interests (you can read the full text of that refusal here). At internal review Wirral Council stated "The original responder considered the contents of the fees notes".

On the 27th October the Information Commissioner’s Office issued decision notice FS50585536 which required Wirral Council to produce the fees notes within 35 days.

On the 24th November Wirral Council produced one of the two which you can read about in Why did Wirral Council spend £48,384 on a London-based barrister in benefits battle with landlord?

However yesterday Wirral Council decided to show us all a magic trick.

The fee note for the £2,700 invoice, which they have been claiming for the past nearly nine months has been carefully considered by its officers when refusing this request (twice) has conveniently and somewhat mysteriously vanished.

Yes like the reverse trick of the white rabbit appearing out of nowhere and just when it would be contempt of court not to produce it, it vanishes!

Of course the observant among you will have long witnessed the "magic and miracles" that goes on at Wirral Council by its employees.

ED: 1/12/15 9:49 Just for clarity, here is the invoice this refers to which quite clearly states "See fee note attached for description of work".

I will finish with this clip of Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Prime Minister. Wirral Council’s responses to FOI requests will be discussed by councillors on Thursday evening, in response to this Lib Dem motion.

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

10 thoughts on “In response to a FOI request Wirral Council pulls a rabbit out of a hat and the invoice mysteriously disappears!”

  1. Been there seen that trick.

    Answer from Commissioner-if they lie you must take them before a judge in the civil courts

    1. The only way to do that is to appeal the ICO decision to the tribunal and Wirral Council make sure that responses to ICO decision notices usually happen outside the 28 day appeal period.

      Section 56 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 rules out any legal action by the FOI requester in the civil courts against the public authority for failure to comply as the power for enforcement rests with ICO for decision notices, the tribunal for the next I think two stages and thereafter if appealed it does becomes a court matter.

  2. John – is this a Weightman’s invoice?.If so – this is really sinister and I would suggest related to an FOI request I currently have with ICO.

    1. Yes it is to do with a Weightman’s invoice, you can see the blacked out invoice it’s related to here.

      The fee note attached would provide a breakdown on what the £2,700 was for.

      I would guess that its to do with the legal costs to do with what I make an educated guess is the Salisbury Independent Living case from November 2010 to September 2012.

      However as it states “voluntary organisation”, it could be about something related but different.

        1. I know and thanks I appreciate all comments, I just wondered what Hereford’s finest (bobby47’s) take was on the whole issue as the fertile imagination of bobby47 cheers up the readers!

  3. Yes Mr Morton it was me. If our John wanted to harvest a comment from an intelligent, sane and thoroughly good lad, he’d have said, ‘what do you think Martin’, whereas he didn’t. He simply summoned up me, the Duke Of Crap, the thrown away and discarded dregs of the great unwashed of the blogging community.
    What’d I think about this? Very little. It’s not surprising and quite frankly anyone or organisation that manufactures a product enabling me to smoke my hand rolled cigarettes whilst supping ale with the lads whilst we pretend to ourselves we once mattered ain’t going to have me churning out vowels and consonants that when read imply that I don’t want me tobacco. I’ll never quit smoking. Never!
    Mind, I do think a great deal about the Whistleblower. Poor soul! Isn’t it strange how, no matter which century, no matter what the circumstances ‘they’ the bastards in this tragic tale of woe, they always focus on the whistleblower.
    What’smore, the tactic is often the same. They single out their obedient runt of the litter to do the ‘I want to be your friend and you can trust me’ and task him to engratiate himself with the bruised and desperately trusting Whistleblower, glean whatever they can that tells what hand of cards they’re holding and report back to be rewarded by cheers of appreciation from his masters who cry in joy, ‘you desperately keen to please, loyal, subservient, loathsome creeping lacky of a man’. Get the ale in and let’s plan how we’re going to destroy this troublesome person.
    And, oddly enough the loyal henchman, the one who was singled out to do the betrayal and the dirty work knowing full well that in time his actions would be discovered and he’d be branded a rotter and a stinker by the voting public, he’s always the first one up at the bar to get the round in. Never, ‘I’m off to the loo’ or ‘I’ll just answer this call’. He’s always the first one up at the Bar keen to justify his chair at the table that’s positioned slightly to his masters right and a respectful distance just behind where, when his master cracks the most boring joke ever transmitted to the human ear, this loyal creep can howl his head off in laughter like a demented headbanger whose been sniffing amylnitrate and getting high on the knowledge that his master once, way way back before he was recruited as a lapdog, ever bothered to learn and remember his birth name.
    What do I think? I think Martin Morton was caught off guard and I’m pretty sure, to this day, he regrets ever believing that there was a scrap of decency and human kindness alive and well amongst the leaders of WBC.

    1. I think everyone who blows the whistle is caught off guard, apart from the extremely politically savvy whistleblowers that do it deliberately and don’t care about the personal cost.

      In fact I’d go so far as to say, having reported on many whistleblowing stories that I agree with you, somebody somewhere with a lot to lose always has it in for the whistleblower.

      Usually this is a big clue as to who the people are responsible for the skulduggery that led to the reason why the whistleblower had to blow the whistle.

      The irony of these tales are that those surrounding this powerful person inevitably pick the wrong side and engage in a conspiracy of silence. The person being attacked is their friend, their chum, how dare this angry whistleblower tell the public the truth?

      Before you know it the unemployed whistleblower has had a few years of time to kick up a fuss and the whole house of cards starts collapsing.

      Then those who engaged in the conspiracy of silence realise which way the wind is blowing and have a change of heart. Full of apologies they admit they were wrong and should’ve held the powerful person (now removed from their position of power and probably living abroad) to account.

      However by then it’s too late, the whistleblower’s career is ruined, his or her mental health is affected and the bad people get away scot free!

      Or have I been writing about whistleblowing for too long???

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