In the very dictionary definition of making a mountain out of a mole hill Cardiff City Council – here played by some very confused council officers – have been ordered by the Information Commissioner’s Office to release complaints and correspondence relating to Doctor Who, reports Publicservice.co.uk
The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham – who’s father David was an Eastern European Correspondent for the BBC – ordered the council to release the information over a year ago after it received a complaint from sometime Daily Mail journalist Christopher Hastings – here played by a diabolical moustache twirling fiend – after his noble request to become an echo chamber for every carping Cardiff resident whose primrose hedges had been squashed by a Cyberman was denied.
The council had contested the ICO’s decision on the basis that dealing with the request would have taken longer than 18 hours of work and it was, like, really hard and stuff.
But the Information Rights Tribunal backed the ICO’s ruling after the Council failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the 18 hour claim – whether or not they failed to produce the evidence of the 18 hour claim because it would have taken 18 hours to do so is one for the ages.
In a roundabout and rather elegant way of saying they’ve got nothing the IRT commented that the council had:
“Failed to adduce ‘cogent’ evidence to support their assertion [and had] failed to demonstrate that they had undertaken a process involving ‘an investigation followed by an exercise of assessment and calculation.”
The tribunal were also treated to the bewildering testament of Council Freedom of Information Officer Dave Parsons who’s evidence consisted of ‘a bald assertion that the work would ‘obviously’ take longer than 18 hours’ which was then followed by the metaphorical sound of a case being rested.
So why 18 hours? Does the Council’s Complaint-Bot 4000 only have battery life for 18 hrs? No! It’s far more tedious than that!
It’s all about money.
If you run through the net gains and losses of a) going ahead with the request versus b) denying the request, not bothering to do the man hours to come up with a good reason why not and then wasting the time of a tribunal, your own staff who attended and gave non-evidence at that tribunal and then having to process the request anyway, probably plants you firmly in the red.
A spokesman for the Council was understandably disappointed:
“In hindsight we accept that we did not provide sufficient evidence to the tribunal in regard of the costs of processing the request for information, however, we note that the tribunal recognised the efforts made to clarify the request which were rejected by the requester of the information.”
At least the Council, like all right minded people, distrusted the Daily Mail (well, when I say ‘right’ minded people…)
In an interesting, if sad, footnote Christopher Hasting’s Journalisted page lists that he has written more about the BBC than any other subject.
The irony of all this is that after the Council’s woeful performance at the tribunal possibly expensive efforts are being made to review the departments record management procedures.
So there, the epic saga to deny the Mail comments feed the chance to “tut” about the BBC has failed, a Council has been ridiculed and absolutely no money has been saved in the process.