March 30, 2009

Denbighshire CC's response to Ian Miller FOI request

Denbighshire CC have issued a response to the Vale of Clwyd Liberal Democrats' request under the Freedom of Information act for information relating to the resignation of Ian Miller in 2008 (see post below). Their response is as follows:

Dear Mr. Wood,

Thank you for your request for information received 13 March 2009 regarding the resignation of Denbighshire County Council's Chief Executive, Ian Miller, last year.

The process of searching for the information you required is now complete I can now advise you as follows:

Q1. The size of the pay-off Ian Miller was given after his departure.

A1. Other than the information that has already been put in the public domain, in the Council’s news release of 3rd November 2008 ( and the estimated vacancy cost (see attached report to Council of 25th November 2008, Agenda Item 8 ) all of the information sought is personal information relating to Ian Miller.

One of the matters in respect of which the Freedom of Information Act provides an exemption from disclosure is for personal information as set out in Section 40 of the Act. In considering whether Section 40 is applicable I have had regard to the Information Commissioner’s latest guidance on the exemption of personal information (see ICO Guidance regarding personal information exemptions attached ). My conclusion is that the information sought should not be provided by virtue of the exemption at Section 40(2) of the Act and I set out my reasoning for my conclusion below.

Having accepted that the information sought is indeed “personal data” I have approached the matter as suggested in the Information Commissioner’s guidance. I have therefore considered whether the disclosure would breach one of the data protection principles. Particularly pertinent to this request is the first principle requiring the personal data to be processed fairly and lawfully and in particular not processed unless at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met in particular here Schedule 2, Condition 6.

For completeness I set out this condition:

‘The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject’.

In his guidance the Information Commissioner draws attention to the three part test and in effect the identification of the line between what is public interest and what is public curiosity. The guidance sets out relevant considerations and how one balances the potentially conflicting factors. My view is that the public interest has properly been addressed by the issuing of the news release which includes statements from Ian Miller, the Leader and the Chairman of the Council and in particular Ian Miller sets out his decision. Having reached that conclusion it seems to me not to be necessary to address the general consideration of fairness and lawfulness.

The Authority has also taken into consideration previous decisions of the Information Commissioners, Denbighshire County Council dated 27th July 2006 (FS50065294), the City and County of Swansea dated 2nd October 2006 (FS 50071454) and The Architects Registration Board dated 12th February 2007 (FS 50075602).

Q2. Define the difference between Public Interest and Public Curiosity.

A2. The statement regrading Public Interest and Public Curiosity is actually a quotation from the ICO's Guidance on dealing with requests involving personal information (see attached ICO Guidance, page 6),

"Firstly, you should identify any legitimate public interest in disclosure. There must be genuine public interest at stake, not mere public curiosity. There is always some public interest in the principle of freedom of information and this will be one relevant factor to consider, but you should also consider the particular circumstances of the case".

which was referenced in a media request very similar to yours and it was this reference that was cited as a spokespersons comment.

If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you have any concerns about the manner in which the Council has dealt with your request for information please do not hesitate to contact me. Alternatively you can contact the Access to Information Feedback Officer, Records Management, 46 Clwyd Street, Ruthin, LL15 1HP. As I am sure you are aware the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is regulated by the Information Commissioner whose address is Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF."
The Liberal Democrats will provide an official response in due course.

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