Saturday, 11 August 2012
The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) has been in touch to say that SIC is preparing to fight the FOI appeal - which South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) is now taking to the UK Supreme Court.
A ridiculous state of affairs - in my opinion - which is being pursued at huge public expense since SIC and SLC are both funded by the taxpayer, of course.
I predict that SLC will lose its appeal - just as it lost the argument with the independent Scottish Information Commissioner - and three senior Scottish judges at the Court of Session.
But you do have to ask yourself - 'If the council has nothing to hide, why doesn't it just publish the information and be damned?'
Is it because this will let the cat out of the bag?
I suspect so - and isn't it interesting that the trade unions have so little to say on the matter - yet they claim to be great supporters of Freedom of Information.
Openness and Transparency (28 March 2012)
Here's an extract from the decision of the Court of Session - Scotland's highest civil court - in the unsuccessful FOI appeal brought by South Lanarkshire Council.
The full judgment can be read online - via the following link to the Scottish Courts Service:
I'm sure many readers will have come to the same conclusion as me - which is that South Lanarkshire Council is a complete disgrace - for dragging things out for so long - and for presiding over this terrible misuse of public money?
 So far as the matter of specification of “legitimate interest” is concerned, it is true that the Commissioner’s findings in para 44 of his Decision leave something to be desired but, reading, as we must, the Decision as a whole, we are satisfied that as a “freelance writer” who published a “blog” specialising in, inter alia, issues of “Equal Pay” the Requester did have such an interest.
 As to the second question, there is little doubt that the Commissioner did, as the Appellant submits, view the issue of “necessity” as being inextricably linked with that of proportionality. For instance, at para 34 of the Decision he says:
“There are, therefore, a number of different tests which must be satisfied before condition 6 can be met. These are:
(a) Does Mr Irvine have a legitimate interest in obtaining the personal data?
(b) If yes, is the disclosure necessary to achieve these legitimate aims? In other words, is the disclosure proportionate as a means and fairly balanced as to ends, or could these legitimate aims be achieved by means which interfere less with the privacy of the data subject?
..We say that because, having regard to the Commissioner’s findings looked at as a whole, we are satisfied that even applying the stricter test the Commissioner could only have concluded that necessity was made out. In particular, he held that the Requester’s own interest coincided with a widespread public interest in the matter of gender equality and that it was important to achieve transparency on the subject of Equal Pay. No better means existed to achieve that goal than by releasing the information in question.
 In all the circumstances, therefore, we shall refuse the appeal.
Note the judges' remarks that my own interest (in requesting the information) coincided with a widespread public interest in the matter of gender equality and that it was important to achieve transparency on the subject of Equal Pay.
Now that's what I call justice - I couldn't have put it better myself.