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  • More than 400 appeals fester with the ICO for more than a year

    Posted on May 6th, 2009 admin 2 comments

    The Information Commissioner’s Office has come back to me and provided an answer for the number of appeals it has had now for more than a year. The answer is a staggering 416 of which 25 haven’t even been dished out to an officer to start the process of an investigation.

    The BBC comes out top of the list - unsurprising really as they try to avoid almost all requests by claiming the Act does not apply to them and referring those complaints straight on to the ICO without offering an internal appeal.

    You can find the answer to the question at this link and the spreadsheet shows all the organisations that have an appeal stuck in the ICO’s pipeline. But here are the highlights.




    The Public Authorities with the most appeals lodged with the ICO that have been there for more than a year:

    BBC (32)

    Cabinet Office (21)                                                            

    Home Office (18)                                             

    Ministry of Defence (17)                                        

    Department of Health (13)                                                                 

    DEFRA (12)         

    Ministry of Justice (12) + 5 (National Offender Management Service)

    Metropolitan Police Service (10)                                                                         

    Foreign & Commonwealth Office (8)                                                                           

    Department for Culture Media and Sport (7)                                     




    Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (5)                                           

    Brighton & Hove City Council (3)                                               

    Buckinghamshire County Council (3)                                                            

    Cambridge City Council (2)                                         

    Ferryhill Town Council (2)                                         

    Kent County Council (2)                      

    Liverpool City Council (2)                                                         

    London Borough of Bromley (2)                                                                

    London Borough of Camden (2)                                                                       

    London Borough of Enfield (2)                                                                   

    London Borough of Islington (2)                                                                    

    Shotteswell Parish Council (2)                                                                  

    West Sussex County Council (2)                                                                     

    Winchester City Council (2)                                                                 

    Wokingham District Council (2)



    Metropolitan Police Service (10)

    Chief Constable Lancashire Constabulary (3)                                       

    Cambridgeshire Constabulary (2)                                                                        

    Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police (2)                                                 

    Police Service of Northern Ireland (2)                                               

    National Policing Improvement Agency (2)



    Newcastle College (2)

    Oxford University (2)

  • Lord leaping on Beeb’s Strictly phone secret

    Posted on March 9th, 2009 admin No comments

    A Liberal Democrat peer has accused the BBC of “Mugabe-like” tactics in the way it has thwarted his Freedom of Information attempts to uncover the voting controversy of Strictly Come Dancing’s semi-final.

    But his efforts at using the Freedom of Information to shed more light on the mystery have been refused by the BCC and he has now compared the Corporation’s tactics to those of Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe.

    The semi-final saw three, rather than two, couples progress to the final and Lord Tyler, the former North Cornwall MP, wants to find out exactly how many votes were cast for each competitor. 

    1,2,3,3. Oh start again...1,2......

    1,2,3,3. Oh start again...1,2......



    The BBC claims the voting figures are not information that can be released under FoI legislation. 

    Lord Tyler said: “These are standards of transparency more resonant of Zimbabwe than of a democratic country with effective freedom of information rules.  Even Mugabe eventually had to release voting figures once the election was over.”

    Millions of people called in to vote in the semi-final but the programme’s producers decided not to eliminate any of the couples at that stage.  The BBC received more than 1,400 complaints from viewers and was forced to offer refunds. 

    Lord Tyler said: “Licence payers’ cash has been spent in the millions on Strictly Come Dancing and the programme’s production has turned from fiasco to farce.

    “The very least people now deserve is to see exactly how many votes were cast for each couple. 

    “The BBC seem to think that we are all fools, with this pathetic excuse for secrecy.

    “Even if these data cannot be released while a particular series is being screened, there can be no sense in concealing them once the contest is over.” 

    Lord Tyler said the prime-time BBC show threw a spotlight on Britain’s “first-past-the-post” Parliamentary electoral system, in which the winner can poll less than half the total vote.

    The Liberal Democrats have been long-time supporters of electoral reform and adopting a system of proportional representation. The show was eventually won by Holby City actor Tom Chambers.

    Responding to Lord Tyler’s request for information, Richard Curwen, head of legal, business affairs and brand management in the entertainment, events and comedy department of the BBC, wrote: “It is not the type of information we would provide voluntarily as we want to protect the programme participants from any potential impact of individual voting levels being made available.”

     Mr Curwen said that under the Freedom of Information Act the BBC is only obliged to provide information held for purposes “other than those of journalism, art or literature”.

     Commenting on the BBC’s response, Lord Tyler said: “The Information Commissioner has apparently ruled before that voting figures relate to journalism, art or literature.  I think there are serious questions about the validity of that judgment.

    “However, the BBC should in any event publish the information voluntarily as a matter of legitimate public interest.

     “Instead, the bureaucracy is showing itself up as outrageously arrogant and devious.”

     Lord Tyler has now appealed his case to the Information Commissioner and to the BBC Trust.