Friday, October 09, 2009

The LGO never learn

Further to my earlier post regarding a Freedom of Information request I submitted to the Local Government Ombudsman in order to identify how many Section 32(3) notices were served on the LGO by councils, how many times the LGO has asked the Secretary of State to lift the notice and how many times the LGO had found the council guilty of maladministration for wrongly serving a Section 32(3) on them.

[Section 32(3) of the 1974 Local Government Act is supposed to help councils stop the LGO from disclosing the content of sensitive documents, such as written advice from their legal counsel/barrister or other experts, to the complainant.]

I have now received a similar response to the one I received when I asked them about the number of council officers they had reported for lying to them. Essentially they don't want to give me the information and I can well understand why. It will be another damning indictment of the LGO.

However, just like last time, they may be able to delay my research but they can't stop the truth from eventually coming out. As they couldn't when I published my research into the number of times they had reported a council officer for lying.

I have already started to submit a request to every council in England in order to extract some of the information and another to the government will extract the rest.

As it did with my earlier research it will take quite some time to submit all the FOI requests and elicit the information but it will eventually be published and I have no doubt it will support my theory that the LGO very rarely, if ever, seek to have a Section 32(3) notice lifted or find a council guilty for misusing a Section 32(3) notice.

One of the unexpected spin off benefits of the LGO's refusal to give me the information, forcing me to ask every council in England is that I can link back from every FOI request to my research as I did with my earlier research. This directed well over 1500 people from the What Do They Know website to read the outcome of my research.

Luckily for me the LGO, like most public servants, never learn their lesson and keep shooting themselves in the foot. Look at the additional damage the MPs did when they tried to stop the truth about their expenses being published. All they did was to make themselves look even worse for trying to stop people seeing the information.

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