LBWF and the Freedom of Information Act: dumb insolence reigns?

LBWF’s response to Freedom of Information Act inquiries has, in my experience, always been pretty hit and miss, but recently things seem to have deteriorated sharply, ostensibly due to the fact that the system has been automated.

I reproduce a letter that I have sent today to LBWF Chief Executive Martin Esom, as it well illustrates the kind of muddle that the innocent inquirer now can so easily find themselves enmeshed in.

In some respects, the events outlined are comic, but there is a serious side, as well.

LBWF has never been very open about its workings. If it ignores the Freedom of Information Act, too, how can anyone hold it to account?

‘Dear Mr. Esom,

I have been seeking to obtain from LBWF the report it produced following an ‘extensive investigation’ into the allegations against Ms. Ludiya Besisira, headteacher of Mission Grove School.

My original request to see this document was made using the Freedom of Information Act on 7 December 2015 (ref. FOIX 119111).

Subsequently, in mid-January 2016, having heard nothing, I consulted LBWF’s new website for requests and complaints, and discovered that FOIX 119111 was listed as ‘Cancelled’, without any further explanation.

As a result, on 18 January 2016, I made a complaint about this cancellation (ref. CU 129736), and was advised that I would be contacted in three days.

On 29 January 2016, having heard nothing more on either count, I submitted a further complaint (ref. CU 132823), and also re-submitted my original inquiry (and was given the new ref. FOIX 132824).

On 4 February 2016, I received notification that my complaint CU 132823 was being considered under Stage One of the procedure, and LBWF would respond in writing within 20 days.

On 26 February, 29 February and 2 March 2016, I received exactly the same message.

As of today, having still heard nothing more on either count, I consulted the LBWF website again, and found that CU 132823 is listed as ‘Cancelled’, while FOIX 132824 is listed as ‘Approve’, whatever that may mean.

So, summarising, LBWF is in flagrant breach of the law over my Freedom of Information request, and has also disregarded its own guidelines for responding to complaints.

I would be grateful for you thoughts on this complete and utter shambles

Yours sincerely,

Nick Tiratsoo’

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