Piercing the veil of secrecy: 3 invoices paid by Liverpool City Council for legal work

ICO Information Commissioner’s Office logo

Piercing the veil of secrecy: 3 invoices paid by Liverpool City Council for legal work


ICO Information Commissioner's Office logo
ICO Information Commissioner’s Office logo

Yesterday I read a blog post by well-known Lib Dem councillor and Mayor candidate Cllr Richard Kemp that made me rather cross.

It wasn’t the bit about gagging orders, or how a councillor was asked to resort to making a Freedom of Information request that I got cross about, but this part.

“Interestingly I have tried to involve the local media in this story. I didn’t get the tiniest response from them. It is part of the role of the ‘fourth estate’ to publicly shine a light on the doings and affairs of those in power. This seems to be lamentably missing in Greater Liverpool these days.”

I will point out at this stage that Cllr Richard Kemp hasn’t contacted me or as far as I know anyone to do with this blog! Of course politicians complaining about the press coverage (or in this case lack of press coverage) is nothing new.

Returning to a story on this blog earlier this week Why is Liverpool City Council not complying with ICO decision notice FS50591795?, the response from Liverpool City Council as to why the decision notice hasn’t been complied with has been the somewhat disappointing, “I acknowledge receipt of your e mail [sic] and I am now making enquiries as to the points made”

So, if Liverpool City Council want to do the local government equivalent of sulk because ICO didn’t agree with them and then go and ignore the enforcement notice, well I don’t want their bad habits on freedom of information to be picked up by Wirral Council do I?

Except you know, being the sort of person that believes in the public being informed I might not be withholding as much information as Liverpool City Council would. Please note these documents were not received through the freedom of information process (which seems to be utterly broken at Liverpool City Council).

Let’s start with a £3,000 invoice for the services of the rather scary looking Simon Burrows of Kings Chambers in a case in the Administrative Court (case reference number CO/932/2014 Karl Downey -v- Liverpool City Council). So therefore it was a judicial review. This invoice went to a Mr. Brendan McGrath who is a solicitor employed by Liverpool City Council.

Quite what the case was all about I really don’t know, but the scary looking guy invoiced Liverpool City Council £3,000 for a "Brief on Hearing" which was £2,500 + VAT. You can click on the thumbnail below for an easier to read version.

Kings Chamber invoice £3000 Liverpool City Council Simon Burrows thumbnail
Kings Chamber invoice £3000 Liverpool City Council Simon Burrows thumbnail

Judicial reviews of Liverpool City Council decisions are hardly a big secret are they?

Let’s move onto something that led to one of the budget savings (if I remember my Liverpool City Council budget for 2016-17 correctly).

This is a £978 payment (although as a previous payment has been made in the same matter the total is £4,206) for “In the Matter of Advice regarding the refund of charges made by Liverpool for mental health aftercare services provided pursuant to s.117 of the Mental Health Act 1983

This is for the advice of Neil Cadwallader of Exchange Chambers who thankfully looks less scary than Simon Burrows.

The invoice went to Duncan Dooley-Robinson and Jeanette McLoughlin (who is Liverpool City Council’s Monitoring Officer). As above you can click on the thumbnail for an easier to read version.

Exchange Chambers invoice £978 Liverpool City Council Neil Cadwallader thumbnail
Exchange Chambers invoice £978 Liverpool City Council Neil Cadwallader thumbnail

Let’s move next to the legal cost of political decisions. A decisions of Liverpool City Council’s Licensing and Gambling Sub-Committee was appealed to the Liverpool Magistrates Court. This is a £2,400 invoice from David Hercock of Six Pump Court for a brief on an appeal involving Tharmathevy Thanabalasingam of Kenny Food and Wine.

This invoice went to P (which stands for Paul) Merriman. Clicking on the thumbnail will load an easier to read version.

Six Pump Court invoice £2400 Liverpool City Council David Hercock thumbnail
Six Pump Court invoice £2400 Liverpool City Council David Hercock thumbnail

Well that’s three out of the twenty-two invoices. Hopefully the release of this information will prompt Liverpool City Council into complying with the ICO decision notice!

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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.

6 thoughts on “Piercing the veil of secrecy: 3 invoices paid by Liverpool City Council for legal work”

  1. Too late John. The most extreme bad habits have been premiered twenty, thirty fold here at the most abusive metropolitan council in Christendom … before Liverpool even got out of the starting blocks.

    1. Oh I’ll give you one example of where Wirral Council is learning from Liverpool.

      If you look at the list of payments over £500 for January 2016 you’ll find the first six entries show the supplier name as "REDACTED PERSONEL [sic] DATA".

      This is what Liverpool City Council does with a lot of the payment information it publishes, in fact I think from memory the suppliers in the invoices above were all redacted from when the list of payments over £500 was published.

      This is despite s.15 of the Local Government Transparency Code stating " The Data Protection Act 1998 also does not automatically prohibit information being published naming the suppliers with whom the authority has contracts, including sole traders, because of the public interest in accountability and transparency in the spending of public money."

  2. G’day John

    Woke up on this lovely morning to the news that MP’s are concerned about the treatment of whistle blowers.

    Me and “Highbrow”.

    Then the next item was another cure for cancer.

    I knew it was all twaddle.

    No disrespect to you as a journalist you are one of the best.



    Come on ecca court and fete us

    “Ankles” aka the ex-“Dunny Chain Wearer” would between fights at the Charity Brawl in The Hall

    1. There’s an election less than two months away. So expect all sorts of headline grabbing moves from politicians.

      As you know I’ve written plenty on the subject of whistleblowing.

      Didn’t Graham Burgess promise at some point that he would get to the bottom of BIG/ISUS?

  3. G’day John

    I am starting to be concerned about “The Chamber Potties” John.

    No building themselves up in their imaginary world in their local rubbish propaganda sheet or the rubbish paper over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters.

    Are they on an overseas junket John, maybe the ski slopes twinning with Andorra or in Bernese Oberland. Adelboden. Grindelwald. Meiringen. Murren. Wengen in Switzerland?



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