Cabinet Office breaks the law, again

Regular readers of The Voice may be familiar with my correspondence with the Cabinet Office and the tales of how the Cabinet Office has lost correspondence, failed to comply with data protection access requests and ignored requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. In short, the Cabinet Office’s administration is frequently chaotic and on several occasions the Cabinet Office has broken the law.

A sample of this was contained in my previous post:

I’ve also put in two Freedom of Information requests about the Cabinet Office’s records of complaints about emails sent via their website going astray. The first produced some general statistics, which prompted my second request asking for further details about those statistics (e.g. whether multiple complaints about the same issue counted as one or more than one towards the totals).

And now for the bureaucratic genius part. In response to that second FOI request, the Cabinet Office claims it has no records again. How it therefore put together figures about total number of complaints when it doesn’t have any records is puzzling. Chicken entrails anyone?

And then there’s been the little matter of the Cabinet Office both claiming that certain records don’t exist (for FOI purposes) but also saying they do exist (for Data Protection Act purposes):

You may think that is incompetence, inconsistency or idiocy. I’m sticking with it being an act of legal genius to argue that a document both does and doesn’t exist at the same time.

I wonder if there is a Mr. Schrodinger on the Cabinet Office’s legal staff?

So on to the latest. After the Cabinet Office ignored my request for a review of how it handled a Freedom of Information request, I put in a complaint to the Information Commissioner.

The Information Commissioner’s office wrote an official letter to the Cabinet Office telling it to carry out the review. The result? Absolute inactivity from the Cabinet Office.

Not exactly reassuring that the Cabinet Office continues to take such a cavalier attitude towards its legal obligations. Shame too that my MP (Jeremy Corbyn) has, so far, not taken up this issue despite being asked. After all, what’s a little matter of law breaking by a government department?

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4 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 16th Mar '10 - 10:27am

    This government’s attitude that the law does not apply to them is annoying.

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Mar '10 - 8:32am

    You can report them to the Information Commissioner, but they know already. It takes them several years to resolve these things, which ensures that any information is no longer politically relevant by the time it gets out. There are no penalties for deliberate obstructionism and delay in compliance.

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