Wednesday, 25 August 2010
The Outcome? A precedent has been set.
After reading the page below, which is taken from probably the most redacted Report in history, the Wiltshire Police Report “Operation Haven” I couldn’t help thinking that a very dangerous precedent has now been set.
Highly Confidential – Personal Information
An independent disciplinary investigation by Wiltshire Police
Following the suspension of Chief Officer Graham Power of the
States of Jersey Police on 12 November 2008.
Obligation to confidentiality
1. Paragraph 1.2 of the discipline code (for Chief Officers of the States of Jersey Police) requires that all parties involved in the operation of this code will maintain confidentiality while proceedings are being progressed. The outcome of any particular case arising under the code will not, as a general rule, be publicised, but it is accepted that following the outcome of a particular case, the Home Affairs Minister and/or the States Employment Board and /or the Chief Officer, might decide that public disclosure is appropriate.
2. This Report contains personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998, and Wiltshire Police would breach the first data protection principle if it were to disclose that information. Hence, the information is exempt under s.40(2) Freedom of Information Act 2000
3. This Report contains information that has been, and continues to be, held by Wiltshire Police for the purposes of an investigation which it has a duty to conduct and which ought not to be disclosed (under s.30 Freedom of Information Act 2000).
4. An obligation of confidence upon Wiltshire Police arises from the duty outlined at 1. Above, and disclosure of information would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and Jersey. Information, therefore, ought not to be disclosed (under s.27 Freedom of Information Act 2000).
At the time they wrote their report Wiltshire Police were apparently resolved to resist any attempt to secure publication. They wheel out a number of reasons (some slightly far fetched such as the international relations bit) but there are grounds which, under UK law would entitle them to refuse an application under the Data Protection Act. That is the point of why they are setting out some of those grounds they are taken from UK Law as a basis on which an application for freedom of information may be refused. There is not the slightest hint that they contemplate the publication of their report. All of the indications are to the contrary. Were they “duped” into believing their Report WAS going to be a part of due process, only to find out it was something to give the “accredited” local media by Ian Le Marquand?
The bit about the Jersey Disciplinary Code has, it could be argued, been deliberately mis-applied by the Home Affairs Minister and his “advisors”. Para 1.2 of the code says that all parties will maintain confidentiality, and goes on “the outcome (my emphasis) of any particular case arising under the Code, will not, as a general rule, be publicised but it is accepted that following the outcome of a particular case the Home Affairs Minister, and/or the States Employment Board and/or the Chief Officer might decide that public disclosure was appropriate." The key thing about this is that it is clearly talking about the “OUTCOME” of a case....i.e. The Chief Officer was cleared or a warning was given, it is, in my opinion, transparent contrivance to claim that this provision entitles a minister to publish the report of the disciplinary investigation. That is a separate thing from the "outcome.” There never was an “OUTCOME”. The Home Affairs Minister abandoned the disciplinary process. But the precedent has now been set. Does this now mean that any states employee, even if un-convicted of any wrongdoing can face the prospect of the publication of a disciplinary report all over the “accredited” media? Or will it, once more turn out to be one rule for one????????????????????????????????
Submitted by VFC.