Friday, September 18, 2009

Certified offences to the High Court

The 1974 Local Government Act Part III states

Section 29

'For the purposes of an investigation under this Part of this Act a Local Commissioner may require any member or officer of the authority concerned, or any other person who in his opinion is able to furnish information or produce documents relevant to the investigation, to furnish any such information or produce any such documents.

For the purposes of any such investigation a Local Commissioner shall have the same powers as the High Court in respect of the attendance and examination of witnesses, and in respect of the production of documents.

If any person without lawful excuse obstructs a Local Commissioner in the performance of his functions under this Part of this Act, or any officer of the Commission assisting in the performance of those functions, or is guilty of any act or omission in relation to an investigation under this Part of this Act which, if that investigation were a proceeding in the High Court, would constitute contempt of court, the Local Commissioner may certify the offence to the High Court.'

In order to identify how many times each Ombudsman has used this power over the last five years I submitted the following Freedom of Information request.

'Over the last five years how many certified offences has each LGO brought to the attention of the High Court, how many involved a council member or officer, what were the outcomes and which council did the member or officers work for.'

I think the answer will be never (or at the most a couple of times) but we will have to wait and see.

Update: The answer as expected was NEVER. Read more about the Information Commisioner's decision about my complaint.

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