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A Freedom of Expression foray: Attachment 09
By Albert Moisiu Dec 2009

HOMEPAGE  Madeleine Beth McCann A Mystery Story ASSORTED LINKS
ALBYM GRAPHIC DESIGN Appendix 9 of A Freedom of Expression foray PDF FILE: A Freedom of Expression

Appendix 09

This letter, in PDF file format, is sent by way of electronic mail to, and for the attention of:

Mr A J
(FOI) Complaints Officer
Information Commissioner's Office
casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk
7 November 2009

ICO Ref: FS50256736
PA Ref: 10041

Dear Mr J,


Complaint about the Home Office

Once again I thank you for your letter, by way of e-mail, dated 5 November 2009, to which I now respond more fully.As preamble, suffice it to say that, despite the undertaking given by Mr O. L in each of his letters dated 23 October 2009 and 30 October 2009, the Home Office, unsurprisingly, failed to respond last week to the outstanding part of my complaint, namely to my "refined" question.
 The aforementioned letters were received by electronic mail on those dates in October, in PDF file format, and both are attached in that format as separate appendix files to this letter.

In your letter of 5 November you explained that any dissatisfaction on my part with respect thereto, presumably including such a failure to respond as noted above, would necessitate the exhaustion of the Home Office's complaints procedure prior to it being referred to the Information Commissioner's Office. I understand and accept that position of the ICO as being correct

With respect to the original request, however, I wish to do two things here:

 First, to place on record my feelings of utter disgust arising from the actions of the Home Office over the past 460 calendar days since 11 August 2008, which actions, I believe, undermined both the spirit and the letter of the Freedom of Information Act, and I would like you to convey my sentiments to the Good Practice and Enforcement team;

 Second, again acknowledging information kindly provided in your letter as to the assignment of a new case reference, to ask the ICO to continue to pursue this original matter further, taking into account my submission below and appending it as necessary to documents already in your possession.

Background

My information request of 11 August 2008:

1 - was entitled "Freedom of Information Request: Press reporting gag in the case of Madeleine Beth McCann."

2 - stated in it's opening paragraph: "... , the grossly unbalanced reporting of the British 'media' evidenced by the failure to fairly present even the most basic facts uncovered by the joint Anglo-Portuguese Inquiry team has given rise to thoughts about there being a restriction order having been placed on the British press, ..."

3 - the opening paragraph continued: "... specifically in respect of those persons who, while not directly or biologically related to Madeleine Beth McCann, were nevertheless directly associated with her disappearance, namely Dr David Payne and his partner, Fiona Payne; Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner, Jane Tanner; Dr Matthew Oldfield and his partner, Rachel Mampilly Oldfield."

4 - the second paragraph contained the formal request for information: "This is a request for information, namely for any and all records or documents or extracts thereof reporting or evidencing that at any time on or after 4 May 2007 any form of limitation or restriction or injunction or moratorium over the free and fair and unfettered disclosure of any aspect whatsoever of, or any detail whatsoever of, the Inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine Beth McCann and/or over any information pertaining to any persons directly associated with that disappearance and/or directly associated with the Inquiry, was requested, instructed and/or obtained by any person, or persons, whether employed at any level within or providing any service within the Home Office or any of its ancillary operations, including, but not limited to, the Central Office of Information."

For purposes of this submission I have provided in each of the above four paragraphs an emphasis, by way of underlining, that was not present in the original document.

 

In the Home Office internal review team letters of 23 and 30 October 2009, Mr O. L indicated that members of that Government agency had chosen, arbitrarily, to define my request in the following way (quoted from the letter of 30 October 2009 - the underlined and emboldened emphasis, again, being mine):
 

"By way of further explanation I would like to make clear again that your request was defined as being for the disclosure of any information held by the Home Office about any restrictions that might have been placed on the sharing of information with the Portuguese authorities following a formal request for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) from them."

Submission
 

I submit that:

1- a reasonable person reading my original request for information would interpret it as a request pertaining to a "Press reporting gag", as unequivocally stated in the title (subject line) of the request and reinforced by the words "thoughts about there being a restriction order having been placed on the British press" in the first paragraph;

2 - were a reasonable person to seek for any limiting factors contained in the original request then that person might, in fairness, determine that the words following "specifically in respect of ..." denote such a limiting factor;

3 - a reasonable person would be capable of aligning the word 'reporting' in the title (subject) and the word 'disclosure' in the formal request, thereby simultaneously aligning the word "gag" with "any form of limitation or restriction or injunction or moratorium" in those same locations;

4 - a reasonable person, under any circumstances, would be hard-pressed to convert the notion of a "press reporting gag" into "restrictions that might have been placed on the sharing of information with the Portuguese authorities ...", and even more hard-pressed to introduce the limitation of "a formal request for Mutual Legal Assistance" when neither such authority-based sharing nor limiting instrument is  alluded to, or intimated, anywhere in the original request document submitted by me.

While self-serving mental gymnastics might serve someone's idea of a wider agenda in this deeply saddening case of a missing child, even if not some trivial part of a political agenda of a totally discredited Government, they can never serve the interests of that child, nor the Public Interest, in any way.

 

 

It is my view that the interests of the missing child and the Public Interest will be served in knowing whether any British Government limitation, directly or by way of agency or proxy, has been placed on the disclosure or reporting of any aspect pertaining to the principal case led by the Portuguese authorities between 3 May 2007 and 21 July 2008, save for those matters already withheld by those Portuguese authorities. This is not a question, it is a point of view, but it is the point of view that gave rise to the question raised in my original request for information submitted to the Home Office.
 

Given that the Home Office response received by me thus far has been solely in response to it's own "defined" request (as indicated above), I submit further that that Office has failed to respond adequately, in any way, to my original request for information.

I request, therefore, that the Information Commissioner's Office continue with it's
investigation into the position held by the Home Office with respect to my original request for information submitted under the Freedom of Information Act.

I thank you for your attention and wish you, and all your ICO colleagues, the best in all your endeavours which, I believe, are wholly worthwhile for all persons world-wide, not only for those in the United Kingdom.

If, as noted in your letter, a new case reference will be assigned to this submission upon it's acceptance by the ICO, I await notification of that acceptance and the new reference.

 

Finally, to reduce any potential communication or administrative delay for the new case reference, I agree to the extraction and copying of any and all documents submitted by me to your Office for purposes of case reference FS50256736, such extracts and copies to be incorporated in the new case file.

Yours sincerely

Albert Moisiu.

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