I’ve blogged several times about my brother Mike’s attempts to get the government to release the statistics for the people, who have committed suicide following their assessment by ATOS over at his blog, Vox Political. His requests under the Freedom of Information Act have been refused, on the spurious grounds that they were ‘vexatious’. Sparaszczukster, of Granny’s Last Mix and Johndeee have had exactly the same experience. They note that the replies sent to them appear to have been written by someone else, although the reply is signed ‘from the FOI team’.
‘What John says is interesting. My original FOI request was addressed ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and the reply was signed , as was John’s, ‘from the FOI Team’. The reply sent in response to my request for internal review was written in the first person in such a way as to give the impression that someone outside the FOI Team had scrutinised their decision. However, this letter was also signed off ‘from the FOI Team’. I’m hoping the ICO will take note of this sloppiness and make some comment.The ICO complaint form asks specifically for both the organisation complained about and the name of the person who dealt with the FOI request which suggests there is an expectation of more than the vague reference to ‘FOI Team’ which the DWP relies on.’
Mike’s request, and the consequent refusal by the Department to release the figures, was raised in parliament in a series of questions asked by Anne Begg and Frazer and Shield of the DWP. Mike says of this part of the meeting that
‘The next factette knocked this one into a proverbial cocked hat: It seems my request was most probably refused by a Conservative DWP Minister, for political reasons. Take a look at this exchange between Dame Anne Begg, chairing the meeting, and Messrs Frazer and Shield.
Anne Begg: Who makes the decision of whether to answer a Freedom of Information request?
David Frazer: In some cases the decision is finally down to the Minister, but on a routine basis it is officials that will routinely answer and prepare them.
Anne Begg: Recently there has been a Freedom of Information request and a reply came back saying that it was a ‘vexatious’ request, and the department wasn’t going to provide the information. Who would make that decision?
David Frazer: In the first instance we have officials who will look at what the request is; they will look at whether it would produce a disproportionate cost for what it is – they will make that judgement, but I believe it will come down to Ministers to make that call. (He is saying it was a political decision).’
So Mike’s request, along with those of Sparaszczukster and Johndeee, have been refused on political reasons why a Conservative minister. The trail of corruption goes all the way to the top, as they say in Hollywood thrillers.
Mike’s article is entitled ‘Revealed: The Facts about DWP Lies’ and can be read here http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/revealed-the-facts-about-dwp-lies/.
Johndeee also says ‘Note also, I wrote to an individual but was replied to from the ‘FOI team’ although *I didn’t make an FOI request*! I just wrote a “what’s going on?” request for info. Seems like more than a few other requests for this information were made if they’re now answering with a form letter from the ‘FOI team’….’
It seems from this that a lot of people are asking for the same information, which makes the DWP’s refusal to publish the figures even more reprehensible and scandalous. The Freedom of Information Act was a piece of Labour legislation, modelled on Clinton’s over in America. It seems that the Tories don’t like it, and instead have retreated into their old position of cover-ups and obfuscation in order to protect themselves.
The Conservatives: Definitely not the party of open government.