Million dollar question
Did the clerk delete the recording because they couldn't be arsed to deal with the FOI or to protect themselves or someone else due to what the recording might have revealed?
A town clerk in the English county of Shropshire has been the subject of the first ever successful Freedom of Information prosecution after lying to a member of the public who made an FoI request. Nicola Young, clerk of Shropshire's Whitchurch Town Council, was fined £400, ordered to pay legal costs of £1,493 and a victim …
> Did the clerk delete the recording because they couldn't be arsed to deal with the FOI or to protect themselves or someone else due to what the recording might have revealed?
Two buttons to click on in the recording management software: [DELETE] [RETRIEVE]
Oops, butter fingers.
Presumably must be the latter. Doesn't take much arse-ishness to attach a sound file to an email after all.
In the interests of open and transparent government, why shouldn't they routinely post recordings of council meetings on their website anyway - then no need for an FOI request?
Or is that too much of an arsk as well?
In the US state of Texas, local governments make you jump through hoops to get public information by extorting you for hundreds or thousands of dollars for public information. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRMrW-1_Qqc
The other game local government uses is calling a recess of the meeting to meet in executive session, then once they finish scheming, go back out infront of the cameras to act as if nothing went on. They claim deliberative process shields them from public disclosure.
Look @ the YouTube channel for Justin Pulliam, a person well versed in freedom of information requests.
I just googled this case and found an article on the whitchurch heralds website* that quoted the judge as saying:
"All parties need to take a long, hard look at themselves. I suspect if the residents of Whitchurch saw those emails, they would be deeply shocked."
Which seems to be in reference to:
"[Young] found herself the subject of criticism from some councillors, which affected her health," said Mr Hanratty. "Including 250 emails from two councillors in a short period of time.
As they seem to have been evidence in court can you FOI request the emails so the residents of Whitchurch, and us in the peanut gallery, can read them and be deeply shocked?
I think you're right. Sounds like the judge had a fair amount of sympathy for her.
Also looks like she might have a claim against the council if they try take things further as she was not trained to handle FOI requests.
Also the foi request was made by a Councilor! This stinks to high heaven.
Our beloved neo-liberal Prime Minister Tony Blair found nothing he had ever done in power caused him so much regret as passing the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
"You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop," Blair wrote of himself in his autobiography A Journey last year, recalling his adoption of the law, which took effect in 2005. "There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it."
The whole point of the FOI was to release information that you already knew they have. Irrespective of what Sir Humphrey would say about the minutes of the meeting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNKjShmHw7s), if a majority of people remember a meeting vastly different from the actual minutes then there is a prima facie case for corruption of some kind. All the FOI has done is criminalise the cover up.
Teiwaz, I think that was 'neo-liberal' by mindset rather than political party - the sort of "liberal" who believes everyone's opinion is equally valid (as long as it agrees with theirs), that everybody is equal (unless you disagree with them) and nobody should have any more rights or privileges than anyone else (as long as you go along with everything they say).
AC because I work with several people who are exactly the sort of "neo-liberal" I describe here.
Blimey, this is in my old neck of the woods, amusingly enough I even used to vaguely know the defending lawyer (as a bloke down the pub to say hello to).
It seems remarkably difficult to find the exact nature of the complaint, but from a vague distance it seems she was explicitly guilty of what she was accused of.
It seems that during a "confidential" part of a committee meeting, one councillor made "serious" allegations against the town clerk (the defendant), with one of the quirks being that the town clerk was in charge of making the meeting minutes. She apparently wrote minutes that conveniently did not record the allegations against her - the 2nd complaint being that she "whitewashed" the complaints made against her.
I have no idea what was alleged (and probably don't care). It seems the original source of the complaint asked why the records were missing, followed up with an FOI request. She claimed she had deleted all the files and was under no obligation to store them. At which point the IT department pointed out she had deleted the files several days later after the FOI request, at which point she had essentially committed perjury in a FOI request related to her own performance and alleged complaints about herself.
Sod knows what it was (it led to resignations among the team). One of the suggestions at the time was that she successfully raised her own town clerk "budget" from £1000 to £2000 without council approval...? Which is quite coincidental cause they fined her £2000.
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