UEA was Advised by ICO to Ignore FOI
Posted by Jeff Condon on January 27, 2010
Jonathan Leake at The Sunday Times Revealed UK To Seek Change in FOI Law……. But that’s not the whole story.
Recently Johnathan Leake has been covering one story after another regarding the corruption of the IPCC process and results. Yesterday by email, he’s received and passed on a press release from the Norfolk police regarding the release of the Climategate emails . This breaking news is an official recognition by the police that not only was FOI law broken but it ABSOLUTELY will NOT be prosecuted and INSTEAD the information comissioners office intends to seek a change in FOI law to prevent future intentional abuse.
Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner, said:
“Norfolk Police are investigating how private emails have become public.
The Information Commissioner’s Office is assisting the police investigation with advice on data protection and freedom of information.
The emails which are now public reveal that Mr Holland’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation. Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act makes it an offence for public authorities to act so as to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information. Mr Holland’s FOI requests were submitted in 2007/8, but it has only recently come to light that they were not dealt with in accordance with the Act.
The legislation requires action within six months of the offence taking place, so by the time the action taken came to light the opportunity to consider a prosecution was long gone. The ICO is gathering evidence from this and other time-barred cases to support the case for a change in the law. It is important to note that the ICO enforces the law as it stands – we do not make it.
It is for government and Parliament to consider whether this aspect of the legislation should be strengthened to deter this type of activity in future. We will be advising the University about the importance of effective records management and their legal obligations in respect of future requests for information. We will also be studying the investigation reports (by Lord Russell and Norfolk Police), and we will then consider what regulatory action, if any, should then be taken under the Data Protection Act.”
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Of course the statute of limitations for this law makes no sense. Bishop Hill recently blogged on the issue. People simply cannot be prosecuted for the British FOI law because by the time you find out about it, the moronic SIX MONTH statute of limitations has run out. There is no way the SOL was not intentionally made to take all the teeth out of FOI.
There is more than one problem here though. The ICO washes it’s hands above with the statement:
It is important to note that the ICO enforces the law as it stands – we do not make it.
Initially this post was going to go through the FOI emails and point out the collusion between scientists and government officials to block FOI and the fact that there is more than one law in the UK. But then I found in the emails this little beauty.
Email – 1219239172.txt
Keith/Tim still getting FOI requests as well as MOHC and Reading. All our FOI officers have been in discussions and are now using the same exceptions not to respond – advice they got from the Information Commissioner.
My bold of course. So it’s no wonder why the ICO is keen to avoid prosecution for FOI law. THEY ARE THE GROUP WHO RECOMMENDED IT!!
Unfortunately for Phil Climategate Jones, that’s not the only law that was apparently broken but again the bobbies don’t seem to care. If you steal a stick of gum from the seat of a car, how many different laws have you broken? The lawyers will tell you there’s a reason that there are so many layers of law. I’m unfamiliar with british law but in the US the law is so dense that it’s hard not to commit a felony before 9am.
Initially this had to do with IPCC issues, freedom of information requests don’t apply to an international organization such as the IPCC, but the IPCC has to do with climate… The solution was apparently to take a very wide view of what is IPCC business.
From email 1182255717.txt
1. Think I’ve managed to persuade UEA to ignore all further FOIA requests if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit.
Email – 1228330629.txt
> When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide
> by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions – one at a
> screen, to convince them otherwise
> showing them what CA was all about. Once they became aware of the
> types of people we were
> dealing with, everyone at UEA (in the registry and in the
> Environmental Sciences school
> – the head of school and a few others) became very supportive. I’ve
> got to know the FOI
> person quite well and the Chief Librarian – who deals with appeals.
> The VC is also
> aware of what is going on – at least for one of the requests, but
> probably doesn’t know
> the number we’re dealing with. We are in double figures.
> One issue is that these requests aren’t that widely known within
> the School. So
> I don’t know who else at UEA may be getting them. CRU is moving up
> the ladder of
> requests at UEA though – we’re way behind computing though. We’re away
> requests going to others in the UK – MOHC, Reading, DEFRA and
> Imperial College.
> So spelling out all the detail to the LLNL management should be
> the first thing
> you do. I hope that Dave is being supportive at PCMDI.
> The inadvertent email I sent last month has led to a Data
> Protection Act request sent by
> a certain Canadian, saying that the email maligned his scientific
> credibility with his peers!
> If he pays 10 pounds (which he hasn’t yet) I am supposed to go
> through my emails
> and he can get anything I’ve written about him. About 2 months ago
> I deleted loads of
> emails, so have very little – if anything at all. This legislation
> is different from the FOI -
> it is supposed to be used to find put why you might have a poor
> credit rating !
> In response to FOI and EIR requests, we’ve put up some data -
> mainly paleo data.
> Each request generally leads to more – to explain what we’ve put
> up. Every time, so
> far, that hasn’t led to anything being added – instead just
> statements saying read
> what is in the papers and what is on the web site! Tim Osborn sent one
> response (via the FOI person) earlier this week. We’ve never sent
> programs, any codes
> and manuals.
[snipped for space]
And from email – 1210341221.txt
2. You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but
this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim
have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we’ve found a way
On and on, note the subject in this email:
From: Michael Mann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Phil Jones <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: IPCC & FOI
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 08:12:02 -0400
laughable that CA would claim to have discovered the problem. They would
have run off to the Wall Street Journal for an exclusive were that to
have been true.
I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
talk to you later,
Phil Jones wrote:
> Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?
> Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.
> Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t
> have his new email address.
> We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.
> I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature
The ICO’s position explained to Santer by Jones eml 1228922050.txt.
Haven’t got a reply from the FOI person here at UEA. So I’m not
entirely confident the numbers are correct. One way of checking would be
to look on CA, but I’m not doing that. I did get an email
from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails -
this was ‘normal’ deleting to keep emails manageable! McIntyre hasn’t
paid his £10, so nothing looks likely to happen re his Data Protection Act email.
Anyway requests have been of three types – observational data, paleo data
and who made IPCC changes and why. Keith has got all the latter – and
there have been at least 4. We made Susan aware of these – all came from
David Holland. According to the FOI Commissioner’s Office, IPCC is an
international organization, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds
anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on, unless it has anything
to do with our core business – and it doesn’t!
So I thought I’d help the ICO deal with the complex issue of finding a different law which may have been broken. Perhaps something which has a statute of limitations longer than a five year old’s attention span. UPDATE: This next bit is more of a grumpy comment than anything so don’t take it too seriously.
I’m no lawyer but it seems possible that this link may be appropriate:
Offence: Statutory Conspiracy. Criminal Law Act 1977
Statutory conspiracy is defined by section 1 of the criminal law act 1977
Under section 1(1) if a person agrees with any other person or persons that a course of conduct shall be pursued which, if the agreement is carried out in accordance with their
intentions, either -
(a) will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offence or offences by one or more of the parties to the agreement, or
(b) would do so but for the existence of facts which render the commission of the offence or any of the offences impossible,
He is guilty of conspiracy to commit the offence or offences in question.
Accordingly, it is an offence to agree to commit any criminal offence even one which is tryable only summarily. However, by section 4 a conspiracy to commit a summary only offence can only be prosecuted by or with the consent of the director of public prosecutions.