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Saturday, 9 July 2016

BBC Seeks to Mitigate Freedom of Information Blunder


Just as we predicted, the BBC is trying desperately to undo its latest Freedom of Information blunder.

Last Tuesday, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Corporation released a swathe of information contained within the TV Licensing Monthly Performance Packs for March 2013, March 2014 and March 2015.

On Wednesday we examined the disclosure documents and quickly realised that the BBC had failed to redact some of TV Licensing's innermost secrets. We duly wrote an article on the BBC's embarrassing blunder, which drew its attention to the oversight and spurred it into seeking removal of the "leaky" documents from WhatDoTheyKnow.

By carelessly clicking the "send" button, BBC lawyer Katherine Leslie has undone decades of secrecy on the subject of TV Licensing search warrants. Try as it might, there is no way the BBC can undo that damage now the genie is out of the bottle.

WhatDoTheyKnow has asked the BBC to clarify its reasons for requesting takedown of its disclosure documents, but a source close to the website has confirmed that it's very unlikely any material will ever be removed.

It is widely believed that the BBC will cite "commercial sensitivity" and "law enforcement" reasons for the takedown, but WhatDoTheyKnow is under no legal obligation to comply with the request.

WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer Doug Paulley, made the following annotation: "The BBC has been in touch about their redaction failure, and we're seeking to establish if there is any material which we should remove from public view.

"We only remove material if we are legally required to do, or in exceptional, very rare cases of clear moral need to do so. Our legal obligations are not the same as a public body's.

"As far as we know at the moment, there doesn't appear to be any compelling reason for us to remove any information published on this request."

In the extremely unlikely event that WhatDoTheyKnow does succumb to the BBC's request, you will still be able to download the "leaky" documents from this folder.

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Edit (11/7/16): The BBC has been in touch to inform us that Katherine Leslie was not responsible for compiling or checking the "leaky" disclosure documents (before she emailed them out). The BBC also claims that she played no role in deciding which information should be released.

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

lol BBC been caught with their pants down again !!!

Doug Paulley is a good WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer check out his own website sometime https://www.kingqueen.org.uk/ i be surprised if he will bend over for the BBC scumbags.

Admin said...

We know.

Anonymous said...

You must be quite happy that the BBC has cocked up for the umpteenth time.
Credit to you sir.

Admin said...

It would certainly be a lot harder to find material to write about if the BBC and TV Licensing behaved in a professional and competent manner.
We are ecstatic that the BBC has scored yet another own goal, yes.

petervoicu said...

I hope we can hit BBC badly so they never recover

M. SHAKEY said...

The BBC has always redacted this information giving the reason that the 'evasion' rates would rocket. I would predict that no perceived increase will become apparent. The conclusion is, that the BBC use the 'to prevent and detect crime' redaction excuse in order to merely COVER UP the incessant LIES that it serves up to the British public. It does this to retain the 3.7 BILLION £££ that it extracts EVERY YEAR to maintain its champagne lifestyle.

Fred Bear said...

I had a look at another FOI request made on WhatDoTheyKnow. This was a request for prosecution statistics for Lancashire. (RFI20151800 on the WhatDoTheyKnow website - request made on 28 October 2015, reply made on 23 November 2015).

In its response, the BBC said:

"Please be advised that the BBC does not hold official statistics on the precise numbers of people actually
prosecuted and convicted for evasion of the Television Licence Fee. Nor do we hold information on fines as
these are a matter for the court alone to impose and collect and dispose of, not the BBC or TV Licensing."

And yet the data tables from pages 26-28 of the Field Monthly Pack would seem to tell a different story. It's clear that the BBC holds precise information about prosecutions for "licence evasion" in the UK including on outcomes such as fines and costs imposed Indeed as they are the TV Licensing Authority it would be strange if they didn't hold this information.

Anonymous said...

So is the BBC annoyed that you published the info or mentioned Katherine Leslie? Or did they just want to set the record straight?

Admin said...

Hello Anon and thanks for your question.
The BBC is undoubtedly annoyed at both of those things, but that chap who got in touch didn't ask for any amendments. Just as well really, as he'd be wasting his time!

Fred Bear said...

Even the non-redacted parts of the released information make for interesting reading. For example, according to the Customer Admin info for March 2015, the majority of Customer Administration (letters, email, licence issue) is carried out offshore. Other sources of data suggest that this work is carried out in a Capita offshoot in Mumbai, India. Although I wouldn't begrudge the good people of India these jobs, it does appear odd that the collection of a UK tax (which is what the TV Licence is) is largely administered on the other side of the world.