Recently in Foreign & Commonwealth Office Category

Have the anonymous bureaucrats at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office "Information Rights Team" actually attended any Freedom of Information Act 2000 training courses ?

Will we really have to involve the Information Commissioner etc. or will a more senior official sort out this mess through an Internal Review of the mishandling of our FOIA request to Foreign & Commonwealth Office - London Diplomatic List for August, September, October 2012 ?

Information Rights Team
Information Management Group
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
Room SG120
London
SW1A 2PA

via email to: DP-FOI.IMG@fco.gov.uk

Friday 12th October 2012

Dear Sirs,

Under the Freedom Information Act 2000, I demand a formal Internal Review of the handling of my Freedom of Information Act 2000 request, by a more senior official, not directly involved in handling my original request:

"FOIA request: London Diplomatic List for August, September & October 2012"
emailed to you on Saturday 6th October 2012

which is quoted in full inline below.

I am astonished by the lack of professionalism in your reply.

Has the anonymous bureaucrat who replied to me under your "Information Rights Team" cover identity actually attended any Freedom of Information Act 2000 training courses ?

You cannot simply claim that:

"Your request for information is no longer being treated as a Freedom of Information request"

It is still an FOIA request regardless of whether you want to disclose the information requested or not.

You appear to be already in breach of section 17 .Refusal of request.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/section/17

If you are refusing my request, then you have to formally refuse to comply and state which Exemptions you are relying on to do so, bearing in mind your default duty to disclose the information requested.

You have not bothered to cite any Exemptions at all under the Act (even though I reminded you to do so in my request)

You falsely claim that:

" the documents requested below are readily available to buy.

You can purchase them from The Stationery Office (TSO) at the following website address: http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/ (Tel:0870 600 5522)."

If you had bothered to look on the TSO website, or had asked any of your FCO colleagues in the Protocol section who compile the London Diplomatic List, you would know that an out of date printed version is available for sale annually.

http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore.asp?DI=633588&CLICKID=002289

The London Diplomatic List 2012
Incorporating Directory of International Organisations
ISBN 9780115917974
Published 31 Jan 2012

That is clearly *not* the online monthly updates which have been published on the FCO website as Adobe (.pdf) documents, almost monthly since late 2009 until July 2012.

I clearly requested the missing August, September and current (October) versions of these online documents.

You have a legal duty to confirm that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office does hold a current, up date version of the London Diplomatic List - it is inconceivable that you do not do so.

Or are you claiming that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has secretly decided to no longer publish such monthly updates on the public website ?

Your reply:

"You can find details for 'current list of consular offices outside London' at www.fco.gov.uk"

This Is quite insulting, given that I actually quoted the correct web link to you in my original request:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/protocol/Consulates

I would remind you of the criminal offence under section 77 Offence of altering etc. records with intent to prevent disclosure".

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/section/77

which applies to anyone who "alters, defaces, blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure "

Yours Sincerely,


[name]
[address]
[email]


===========================


Return-Path: dp-foi.img@fco.gov.uk
From:
To: [email address]
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 09:04:23 +0100
Subject: London Diplomatic Lists
Thread-Topic: London Diplomatic Lists
x-esesecuritylabel: UNCLASSIFIED
x-eseoriginalsubject: London Diplomatic Lists

Dear [name]

Thank you for your e-mail.

Your request for information is no longer being treated as a Freedom of Information request as the documents requested below are readily available to buy.

You can purchase them from The Stationery Office (TSO) at the following website address: http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/ (Tel:0870 600 5522).

You can find details for 'current list of consular offices outside London' at www.fco.gov.uk<http://www.fco.gov.uk>

Kind Regards

Information Rights Team


The Foreign & Commonwealth Office have actually answered a Freedom of Information Act request in under a week !

"...O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

- Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Following a blog posting entitled Secrecy on Don Mitchell CBE QC's blog Corruption-free Anguilla , which is "A Discussion Site for Good Governance and Corruption in Public Life Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies":, Spy Blog emailed this FOIA request late on Sunday night:

From: [email address]
To: dp-foi.img@fco.gov.uk
Date: Mon, 06 Jul 2009 01:53:32 +0100

Information Rights Team
Information Management Group
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
The Mall
London
SW1A 2PA

E-mail: dp-foi.img@fco.gov.uk


Monday 6th July 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please disclose:

-----------

The latest copy of the Draft Constitution for the British Overseas
Territory of Anguilla.

This appears to have been presented to Chief Minister Osbourne
Fleming by Lolita Davis-Richardson in February 2009.

http://www.anguillian.com/article/articleview/6593/1/140/


----------

Please provide the information, ideally by publishing it on your
public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

Ideally this should *not* be in the form of a "copy and paste"
locked Adobe .pdf file, or similar, attachment.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already
available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the
reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information
requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an
explanation of any proposed charge.

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested, you
should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by
reference to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 legislation.

If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the
Public Interest, for a Qualified Exemption, then you should clearly
explain which public interest(s) you have considered, and why you
have decided that the public interest in maintaining the
Exemption(s) outweighs the public interest in releasing the
information.

If you decide to conduct a Balance of Public Interest evaluation,
you need to estimate any additional time which might be required,
and to inform me of this in your Substantive Reply, within the
mandatory statutory limit of 20 working days for you to respond to
this Freedom of Information Act request.

Under Section 16 the Freedom of Information Act, you have a Duty to
Provide Advice and Assistance, as to how this current request may
need to be modified, if necessary.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as
possible, and in any event, within the statutory 20 working days
from receipt of this email i.e. no later than Monday 3rd August
2009
.

Yours faithfully,


[name]
email: [email address]

This was acknowledged on the Tuesday:

From: DP-FOI.IMG@fco.gov.uk Add contact
To: {email address]
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 2009 15:45:59 +0100

Dear XXXXX

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. It has been passed to the relevant section within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to deal with. They will be in touch with you should your request need clarification.

We received your request on 06 July 2009 and will aim to respond within 20 working days.

Yours

[name of civil servant]
Information Management Group
Information Rights Team

Astonishingly, late on Thursday, there was a Substantive Reply from the Montserrat and Anguilla Desk Officer in the Overseas Territories Directorate of the FCO, emailed out at Thu, 09 Jul 2009 17:18:50 +0100

09 July 2009

Overseas Territories Directorate
K2.225
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Tel: 020 7008 nnnn
Fax: 020 7008 nnnn
E-mail: [forename.surname]@fco.gov.uk


XXXXX

{email address]

Dear XXXXX

FOI REQUEST REF: 0524-09

I can confirm that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does hold information relevant to your request. Under section 21 of the Act, we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. The information relevant to your request can be found on the Government of Anguilla website http://gov.ai/documents/Anguilla%20Constitution%20Draft%202009.pdf.

If you are unhappy with the decisions made in relation to your request from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office you may ask for an internal review. You should contact me if you wish to complain. You have 40 working days to do so.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours faithfully
{name of Desk Officer]

{name of Desk Officer]
Overseas Territories Directorate

Technically, this might be an FOIA rejection, but perhaps our FOIA request on Monday, the day when Anguillan Government Ministers were due to fly to London to discuss this Draft Constitution, may have prompted the publication of this Draft Anguillan Constitution on the Government of Anguilla website, something which should have been done back in February 2009.

Perhaps we were pushing at an open door - the FCO officials would have been able to point out to the Anguillan politicians, that the FCO had no legal grounds for refusing our FOIA request, and that publication was therefore inevitable.

If you look at the meta data of the .pdf document, you can see that the document was only converted to an Adobe .pdf file from a Word .doc file on Tuesday i.e, after the FCO received our FOIA request.

File Name : Anguilla Constitution Draft 2009.pdf
File Size : 188 kB
File Type : PDF
MIME Type : application/pdf
PDF Version : 1.4
XMP Toolkit : 3.1-701
Creator Tool : PScript5.dll Version 5.2
Format : application/pdf
Document ID : uuid:844be5a1-b5ae-4d41-9018-322dd84db176
Instance ID : uuid:acb3824e-6f35-4506-976e-96e6ab65d55b
Page Count : 74
Create Date : 2009:07:07 10:58:45-04:00
Author : KennethMH
Creator : PScript5.dll Version 5.2
Producer : Acrobat Distiller 7.0 (Windows)
Modify Date : 2009:07:07 10:58:45-04:00
Title : Microsoft Word - Anguilla Constitution.doc

N.B. this document could certainly do with some editing, as there are a couple of spelling errors , strange changes in font style and odd highlighting.

The people of Anguilla might wish to ask why, in a 21st century Constitution, there are no specific rights or protections to do with the internet and electronic communications, digital rights and privacy etc., which form such a large part of the tax and data haven economy of this small island remnant of the British empire.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

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