Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Who Guards the Guards?

Here's a letter I've sent to all Glasgow Councillors about freedom of information and the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme.

I have also shared this letter via Twitter with Glasgow's constituency MSPs and MPs.

More new to follow - so watch this space. 


Dear Councillor

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who Guards the Guards?)

The news coverage in recent days has featured a prominent story involving potential bias or prejudice on the part of the Scottish Government which rightly so,  in my view, was found to be on the wrong end of an important judgment in the Court of Session over the so-called Alex Salmond affair.

On reflection I thought elected Councillors in Glasgow might also be interested in another example much closer to home which involves the Council’s now widely discredited WPBR pay scheme. 

I enclose a copy of a letter sent to me on behalf of Carole Forrest, Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council, which responds (albeit belatedly and only after the intervention of the Scottish Information Commissioner) to my previous FoI Review Request.

I have now registered an appeal with SIC over the Council’s refusal to release its mysterious ‘handwritten notes” which contain potentially important information about the WPBR, on which more will follow soon.

However, the point of this letter is to draw your attention to Glasgow's FoI procedures and the decision of the Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council who has refused to answer part of my FoI Review Request on the bogus grounds that my request is ‘vexatious’.

I have asked for a review of this initial decision by Glasgow City Council and would like to highlight the fact that the FoI Review Request process is also lodged with and overseen by the Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council, Carole Forrest.

Now this seems quite bizarre and incongruous to me - the FoI equivalent of Catch 22 whereby the Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council is in charge of both the initial stage and the appeal stage of the Council's supposedly independent FoI process.  

Openness, transparency and 'world leader' are not exactly the words that spring to mind - to my mind anyway.

I believe that elected Councillors in Glasgow should be taking a much keener interest in these matters because, in my view, the ‘hands-off’ approach adopted previously by Councillors in relation to the WPBR, and equal pay more generally, has certainly helped get the Council into the terrible mess it finds itself in today.

In other words, the actions and behaviour of the Council's senior officials could do with more serious scrutiny not less.

I will be in touch again soon regarding the substance of my appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner which I'm sure you will find is in the public interest.

Kind regards

Mark Irvine