Guest blog by Amir Tahir
On 22nd December last I submitted a Freedom of Information request to Brent Council asking for the following:
1. The number of nominations/votes received by individual Brent Staff Achievement Award winners 2014 2. The number of nominations/votes received for Rosemarie Clarke for Brent Staff Achievement Awards 2014.
By return I received the following acknowledgement from Cara Davani:
‘Thank you for your information request. We (sic) will forward it to the relevant department who will contact you shortly.’
On 21st January I received the following from Brent Council HR department.‘The requested information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the
Freedom of Information Act (FoIA). The information is personal data as defined by
the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). As it is information about individuals, we are
unable to give this to you; release of this information would constitute a breach of
Principle 1 of the DPA. Principle 1 states that personal data shall be processed
(used) fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be used unless at least one of
the conditions in Schedule 2 of the DPA is met; in this case none of those conditions
have (sic) been met.* This response therefore acts as a refusal notice under section 17 of
* I would welcome opinions on this. AT
Obviously, my request for the total number of Rosemarie’s votes was not made out of idle curiosity; we all know that the response to the ’Vote for Rosemarie’ idea was overwhelming with Civic Centre staff and members of the public expressing their solidarity with Rosemarie and their admiration for the way she had conducted herself in the face of what a British court has adjudged was Cara Davani and Brent Council’s racial discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal. The online vote she received was massive. Nor was it my intention in any way to detract from the achievements of the other worthy winners of Brent Staff Achievement awards.
However, the Council leadership’s mean-spirited response to the avalanche of votes for Rosemarie seems to me a missed opportunity for Butt, Gilbert and Davani finally to concede that those voting for Rosemarie possibly had a point; that Civic Centre staff and the public generally support Rosemarie for principled and valid reasons; and that an employment tribunal judge’s opinion possibly carries a little more authority than that of a small cabal of mutually back-scratching and terminally compromised senior managers and local politicians.