Recently in FCO London Diplomatic List Category

Second Internal review by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, this time by the Head, rather than the Deputy Head of the Information Rights Team

[FCO logo]

Information Rights Team
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
London SW1A 2PA

[name]
[postal address]

17 January 2013

Dear [name]

INTERNAL REVIEW OF FOI REQUEST REF: [ref. no.]

Thank you for your email of 3 January asking for an internal review of the decision conveyed to you in our email dated 31 December 2012.

I am writing to confirm that I have conducted a full examination of how your request was
handled. I apologise for the delay in replying substantively to your initial request of 6th
October 2012.

Search for information

My team have spoken to the relevant department which issues the updates of the London
Diplomatic List and the List of Consular Offices outside London.

There were no updates made in August and September 2012 due to staff shortages. All the information collected during the period since the July 2012 update was put into the October 2012 update. The lists are working documents and are continually updated. The
department do not keep copies of the updates once these have been published on the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

If there were no updates in August and September due to "staff shortages", then why not say so in October ?

By not being transparent and open , this generated the suspicion that the London Diplomatic List were censored due to the Olympic Games.

I am therefore content that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold the
documents that you have requested.

Does the FCO really not have any backups of their internal computer systems, on which the various versions of the London Diplomatic List is compiled ?

Are there really no versions of the London Diplomatic List (.pdf) files held in the backups taken of the Protocol Directorate's section on the FCO website, in case of human error or deliberate cyber attack ?


https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foreign-embassies-in-the-uk

That is very hard to believe.

Your specific queries
I appreciate your feedback, I have reflected on the points that you have made and I accept to a large extent what you have said -your request was a valid one under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and should have been treated as such. If we had dealt with it as an FOI request we would have told you whether or not we held the information and we would have cited any relevant exemptions.

I apologise for the provision of the link to the printed document when you were asking about online monthly updates.

Therefore, after careful consideration of the original handling of the request and on the basis of the findings above, this internal review has overturned the original decision and dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The email from the Deputy Head of the Information Rights Team back in October 2012 was an Internal Review under Freedom of Information Act of the original rejection, especially as it mentioned FOIA Exemptions that could have been in the original Rejection, but wern't

I hope you are satisfied with the process of this review and the outcome. However, if you feel we have applied the exemptions incorrectly or we have not handled your internal review correctly and you wish to make a complaint, you may then 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.

Yours sincerely,

Barry Proudfoot
Head, Information Rights Team
Information Management Department

[Freedom of Information logo]

We keep and use information in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. We may release this personal information to other UK government departments and public authorities.

Information Commissioner's Office
FOIA casework team

via email: casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Sunday 21st October 2012

Dear Sirs

I am writing to formally complain about the mishandling of my FOIA
request for the missing online (.pdf) August and September versions
of the the London Diplomatic List, by the Foreign & Commonwealth
Office.

In their original response attached below, and in their Internal
Review, they (insultingly) pretend that the out of date, printed,
annual version of the London Diplomatic List (published in January
2012) is somehow the same as the monthly 2012 updates published as
Adobe (.pdf) documents on the the FCO website.

They failed to mention any FOIA Exemptions or any mention of my
right to an independent Internal Review or my right to complain to
Information Commissioner's Office in their original reply to my
properly formatted FOIA request.

Probably not coincidentally, the FCO Protocol section *has*
published online the London Diplomatic List for October 2012,
created on 15th October 2012, so there is no question that they do
not hold such information.

http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/protocol/ldl-october

The Internal Review effectively admits breaches of sections 16 and
17 of the FOIA 2000.

***********
N.B. I still want the August and September 2012 versions of the
London Diplomatic List to be published on their public website or
made available to me via email.
**********

I expect at least some informal "pull your socks up" to the
standard of other Whitehall departments advice, or a formal
Decision Notice from the ICO to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

regards
[name]
[address]


----- Forwarded message from [email of address of civil servant] -----
Dear [name]

I am writing to you as the Deputy Head of the Information Rights
Team. When we received your request we forwarded this to our
Protocol Department to deal with. Their advice was that the
information you requested was easily obtainable from The Stationery
Office (TSO). We decided that it would more effective to respond
to you quickly and provide you with that information which is what
my colleague did on 10 October. The only difference between my
colleague's response and any official FOI reply would have been the
citation of section 21 - information which is reasonably accessible
by other means. Under the FOI Act we are not obliged to provide
you with information which is already in the public domain and
would be readily accessible to you, even if it means you have to
buy a copy of the London Diplomatic List.

We would have also have quoted the following paragraphs which would
have advised you of your rights to ask for an internal review or
appeal to the Information Commissioner.

The paragraphs are as follows:

If you are unhappy with this reply you may ask for an internal
review. If you wish to do so you should contact:

Information Rights Team
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
London
SW1A 2PA

Email: dp-foi.img@fco.gov.uk

You should must submit your request for an internal review within
40 working days from the date of this letter.

I have already done so and you have already rejected my FOIA request, on spurious grounds.

I am complaining to the Information Commissioner's Office

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. Generally, the Commissioner cannot make a decision
unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by
Foreign Office. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

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

I do not feel that my colleague acted in an unprofessional manner.
I believe that she was trying to be helpful in answering you as
quickly and as fully as possible. If you are still dissatisfied
with my response please write to the Information Rights Team at the
above address and we will conduct a further internal review if you
wish.

Yours sincerely


[name of civil servant]
Deputy Head, Information Rights Team
Information Management Department
SG/126, OAB
Tel: 020 7008 [POTS number] FTN: 8008 [different number]
Fax: 020 7008 [fax number]
BlackBerry: [non government mobile phone number ?]
Email: [email]


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 website has not published an updated monthly London Diplomatic List since July 2012 . Why ? Will they pretend that this is somehow due to the Olympics ?

See the Spy Blog London Diplomatic List archive

Information Rights Team
Information Management Group
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
Room SG120

London
SW1A 2PA
E-mail: dp-foi.img@fco.gov.uk

Saturday 6th October 2012

Dear Sirs

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please disclose the
following information:

----------------------

1) The current "London Diplomatic List" and the "current list of
Consular Offices outside London" for October 2012

2) The "London Diplomatic List" and the "current list of Consular
Offices outside London" for August 2012

3) The "London Diplomatic List" and the "current list of Consular
Offices outside London" for September 2012

References:

Foreign & Commonwealth Office public website Foreign Embassies in
the UK

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/protocol/embassies-in-uk/

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

The last published list appears to be from July 2012

http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/protocol/ldl-july

--------------------

Please provide the requested 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, then you should clearly explain which public
interests you have considered and why you have decided that the
public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the
public interest in releasing the information.

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 Friday 2nd November
2012

Yours Sincerely,

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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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