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Saturday, 7 June 2014

The BBC and Ministry of Justice: Two Cheeks of the Same Arse


Last month we mentioned an unusual situation where the Ministry of Justice had released information about TV Licensing court presentations and subsequently attempted to un-release the same material by claiming it didn't exist.

It really was a bizarre state of affairs. Quite how the Ministry of Justice can hope to un-release something it claims doesn't exist, but whose existence is evident for all to see, is a bit of a mystery. The material in question was an unredacted version of TV Licensing's Magistrates' Court brainwashing presentation, which the BBC would rather Joe Public didn't know about.

Mark Salter, the author of the original request at WhatDoTheyKnow.com, has been doing some digging around to discover the Ministry of Justice's rationale for trying to censor their own Freedom of Information response. It should come as no surprise that the BBC's grubby little paw-prints are all over the Ministry of Justice's change of tune.

In an email dated 23rd December 2013, shortly after they became aware of the "data leak", the BBC said to the Ministry of Justice: "As discussed, we are very disappointed that this presentation has been made publicly available on the WhatDoTheyKnow website. 

"Whilst the presentation should not have been shared externally in the first place, TV Licensing would have expected to be notified of the request as a matter of course - as was the case for the FOI received by the Ministry of Justice - so that we could advise on any sensitivities".

So there you have it, straight from the donkey's mouth: If anyone asks any public authority about TV Licensing the BBC wants to know about it, so it can no doubt attempt to influence any subsequent disclosure of information.

It's a situation not unlike TV Licensing's arrogant belief that it is entitled to peddle shite to members of the Judiciary in the first place.

Freedom of information? There's a joke.

Back scratching and institutional cover ups. That's more like it.

3 comments:

Watchkeeper said...

Yes, remarkable, isn't it?

All there in black and white:

... we believed that the information was “held” by MoJ and we had not been advised that it was too sensitive to disclose.

So the Freedom of Information Act doesn't actually refer to information as we all understand it, it refers to information which is "not too sensitive to disclose". And who decides on the matter of sensitivity? Need you ask?

With hindsight the MoJ views that the information is not held for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.

So the Freedom of Information Act doesn't actually refer to information as we all understand it, it refers to information held for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act. This is what I believe they call in computer circles "recursion".

Nice to know that any BBC response to an FoI request will contain information which is not "too sensitive to disclose" and "held for the purpose of the FoI Act". Is this what Parliament had in mind.

Anyone still doubt the existence of "The Establishment"?

Anonymous said...

In response to FOI request 86407 [dated 25/10/13], HMCTS sought to evade the issue of these training sessions. When the issue was pressed, HMCTS admitted that they had no idea as to the frequency or content of these sessions.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/tv_licensing_training_sessions#comment-46047

The fact that a subsequent request to the MoJ produced a result demonstrates the value of attacking from several directions. The empires are so numerous, so big, so ramshackle, and the staff so arrogant and incompetent, that somewhere, someone will blunder.

Anonymous said...

I nore in the Powerpoint document reference to TVL collecting NI numbers because the courts 'requested it'. Well ...

In response to FOI request RFI20131564 [dated 25/10/13], the BBC was challenged over their collection of householders National Insurance numbers. In their response, they evaded the issue, merely stating that the ‘courts used the information’. When pressed, the BBC admitted that it possessed no document in which HMCTS actually requested that information. Seeking to distance itself from the practice, the BBC stated that TVL requested this information as a result from ‘feedback from magistrates’. No evidence was produced to support this assertion.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/tvl_and_customer_information#comment-49445