Tuesday, 22 February 2011

CWaCC cannot come to terms with freedom of information

There are many councils that seem unable to grasp the point of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act. One such local authority, the clumsily-named Cheshire West and Chester Council, has not only introduced charges but has taken its hostility to the FoI act to a new level.

It has prohibited a former employee from using the act by requiring the person to sign an agreement waiving his right to make an FoI request to the council. The gagging agreement also curbs his rights under the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The irony is that the agreement came to light because of a specific FoI request (carried in full on the WhatDoTheyKnow website) that asked the council to say how many "current employees/ex-employees who have agreed... to forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information or DPA Subject Access requests." The answer was one.

According to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the agreement is invalid. (And it may breach human rights legislation too).

A council spokesman, Ian Callister , told the paper: "I am assured by our senior solicitor that our compromise agreement with our ex-employee is entirely lawful and was agreed by that person's legal representatives.

My comment: Do you think Cwacc's legal department knows better than the ICO? The council that just a short while ago wrongly thought that they could charge for all Freedom of Information requests. 

Read the full story from the source  Greenslade Blog (Guardian)

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