******** Updated 20:16 - The full transcript of this FOI + attachments is AVAILABLE HERE following approval from the blogger in question
Today I received an FOI response from Barnet Council. It was a month late, which is usually a sign that they have been rather naughty. To be quite honest with you, I could not believe my eyes when I read it. It reveals how Barnet Council, in April of this year, lodged a complaint with the ICO about a Barnet blogger (I don't believe that blogger to be me). The move was a clear attempt to start a process of intimidation against that blogger, with a view to closing down their blogging activities.
Whilst the information in the email identifying the blogger has been redacted, it is clear to me who the blogger was and what the complaint referred to. I am currently awaiting their approval before the full details of the correspondence are revealed - I will post this on the http://barnetfutureshape.blogspot.com/ website, where the Barnet bloggers are publishing all such lengthy correspondence.
What is reassurring is that the ICO rejected the complaint. Here is what the ICO had to say (amongst other things).
As so often has happened in Barnet Council's war with its residents, it has got it wrong and lost. Had I not submitted the FOI request, none of us would ever have known what they were up to or just how Stalinist they are getting. What is ridiculous is that nobody in Barnet had the wit to realise that they didn't have a leg to stand on. Does nobody in Barnet actually understand the law?
Barnet Council has complained about the cost of answering FOI requests from bloggers. Well I'm a Barnet Blogger, proud of it and I'd like to complain about the cost of Barnet Council being completely incompetent and waging war on it's citizens. Barnet Council somehow manage to combine the tactics of Joseph Stalin with the tactical know how of Mr Bean. God know how much this fiasco cost you and I, the Barnet Taxpayer.
Oh and finally, thank you to the Barnet Council employee who tipped me off about this in the first place. Barnet Council CEO Nick Walkley and Leader Richard Cornelius really should wake up to the fact that their staff will leak information when they find out that the Council are behaving in this manner. It takes us time to get the information out, but trust me, we do in the end !