[Le2] Lewisham Council Obstruction of FOI Request

The FOI request was simple, and it was made on 6 Jun 2016.

Over a year later Lewisham Council have failed to comply with their duty under the FOI Act to supply the information requested.

They have offered a number of exemptions, excuses, numerous broken deadlines, even given unlawful excuses not covered under the FOI Act, and delayed and delayed and delayed and failed to reply a number of times.

Eventually after 8 months I was forced to make a complaint to the Monitoring Officer.  The Monitoring Officer has the specific duty to ensure the council, its officers, and its elected councillors maintain the highest standards in all they do [11]

However this monitoring officer failed to do her job, she failed to do her duty, she failed to answer nearly every question I asked her, she even went on holiday when she said she would reply. She failed to ensure the Council answer as required to do so by the FOI Act. She has failed to ensure an internal review of the FOI is carried out as required to do.

Unfortunately regulators such as ICO are slow to act and rogue Councils know this and take advantage of it to delay. I have started upon that route, but that is likely to take another two years and there are many steps on that route and the ICO itself claims to be short of staff and is already slow completing the very first step.

One course accessible to me and one of the most powerful is to name and shame.

  • Kath Nicholson is the monitoring officer. It is her duty to ensure the Council maintain the highest standards in all they do.
  • It is Kath Nicholson who has failed to do her duty as monitoring officer to ensure the Council maintain high standards and reply substantively to a FOI request with the information, even after a year from the start of the request
  • It is Kath Nicholson who has failed to even maintain a legal standard, never mind maintain the highest standards for herself, nor ensuring the council’s officers maintain highest standards
  • Kath Nicholson it seems has set a slovenly, unlawful standard and has been as awkward as possible.
  • Kath Nicholson even actively refused to send the reply to one part of the FOI request to the public WDTK website. She maintains she will only send it my personal email, which was given to her in the process of making the complaint and not anything to do with the FOI itself.

The highest standard Kath or the lowest?

                                                                    Kath Nicholson

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to answer how Lewisham’s records are filed.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to say whether there is a digitised index.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer refuses to say whether the records are stored in house or via an external agency where a fee has to be paid.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to explain what was meant by an odd phrase “to retrieve this information would require manual checks on all such individuals”

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to do an internal review on the council claim that the 160 page “After Leeways” Report cannot be found in 18 hours despite the fact it is the duty of the Council to do.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to do an internal review on the council claim that they cannot find a Review of the Child Services from 1990 within 18 hours despite the fact it is the duty of the Council to do so.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, illegally refuses to send a copy of the Chief Executives report to the WDTK website. This was the same report that the Council unlawfully claimed was confidential and would not be released. They clearly do not want it available to the public.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to say whether the Elizabeth Lawson “1 year on Report” was not done or it was done but lost, and refuses to do an internal review into this.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to confirm what documents they hold.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer refuses to answer what the legal reason was to refuse the “Chief Executives Report” or admit that there were no legitimate reasons for refusal.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer refuses to process a formal complaint about the staff involved in the delay of the FOI request and the failure of the Council to answer my requests for internal reviews and further information.

Kath Nicholson, supposed Monitoring Officer, refuses to internally review the whole request some 5 months after it was requested. It appears as though staff have been told not even to acknowledge my correspondence on this request.

*By “refuses” I mean she has not done so after repeated requests, and therefore this is a de facto refusal.

I have good reason to believe that there was widespread child sexual abuse in Lewisham Council, that was covered up at the time.

The actions of Lewisham Council and Kath Nicholson in particular are without doubt deliberately still delaying and covering up.

Perhaps Lewisham Council are using this time to find and shred or destroy or “lose” documents that will incriminate Lewisham Council. Perhaps they are taking steps to reduce their financial liability. That would explain why they feel they can deliberately and openly flout their public and legal duty yet are supposed to be public servants.

  • Have Kath Nicholson and Lewisham Council gone rogue?
  • Are corporate interests a higher priority than public duty?
  • Is Kath Nicholson’s job as head of Law in conflict with her job as Monitoring Officer?
  • Quite clearly she is not carrying out her duties properly as Monitoring Officer. Why?
  • Does the Council support her refusal to carry out her legal duty?
  • Are the Council refusing to do their public duties and acting on some interpretation of their corporate ones?
  • Is the Council paying people to cover up child sexual abuse?That is a reasonable explanation that fits the facts.

How sick are the people involved who actively or passively cover up the rape of children? What are their motives? What do they get in return?

A much abbreviated history of the  FOI correspondence with links follows, the full saga can be checked here [1]

2016 Jun 6 [1]

Please could you send me a copy of
1. The dossier “After Leeways, Challenges, Changes and Achievements” published by the London Borough of Lewisham on March 19th 1987
2. The minutes of the Social Services Committee 23rd July 1985
3. Review of Childrens Residential Services believed to be July 1984
4. Chief Executives Inquiry Report, subsequent to Leeways believed to be February 1986
5. Minutes of the Report to Council on 5 March 1986 (This should contain discussion of Chief Execs Inquiry Report)
6. Report of the Elizabeth Lawsons Independent Panel 1 year on from Leeways Report

2016 Sept 26 Answer (paraphrased)   [1a]

  1. “After Leeways, Challenges, Changes and Achievements”. Refused as it is not recorded in a readily accessible form, too much time and money Section 12(1)  [1a]
  2. Social Services Committee 23rd July 1985 Minutes provided see [1b]
  3. Review of Childrens Residential Services believed to be July 1984  – refused not recorded in a readily accessible form – too much time and money Section 12(1)
  4. Chief Executives Inquiry Report – Refused Confidential [No legal reason given]
  5. Minutes of the Report to Council on 5 March 1986 (This should contain
    discussion of Chief Execs Inquiry Report) There are no records of a meeting on the date you quote.
  6. Elizabeth Lawsons Independent Panel 1 year on from Leeways Report – Information not held

2016 Oct 1 [1c] My reply

1. “After Leeways, Challenges, Changes and Achievements” dossier is apparently approximately 160 pages and was the main Lewisham response to the Inquiry into the horrific situation of Lewisham Council having a child abuser in charge of its childrens home who had abused several children. It should from the size be relatively easy to find within your files.

To help me understand could you explain how are Lewishams records from this time filed or catalogued, whether there is a digitised index and also whether Lewishams records are stored in house or via an external agency where a fee has to be paid for searching?
I do not understand what you mean by “individuals” in this sentence “To retrieve this information would require manual checks on all such individuals. “ Could you explain?

2. Thankyou for those minutes

3. Review of child services not able to be found. This was a major revamp only 30 years ago. Is this not able to be found easily within the time limit?

4. “Chief Executives Inquiry Report, subsequent to Leeways believed to be February 1986 This information is deemed confidential, and will not be released”
Could you give the exemption Lewisham is claiming under the FOI Act? I also enclose a link to a document which gives some more detail as to the Report for your information.

5. Minutes of Report to Council 5 March 1986
This is link to a page 19 that has been supplied to me https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2016/10/0… I believe it to be from the “After Leeways Report” but I could be mistaken. It describes this Report to Council. I wonder whether it would be possible to find it with this help. Is it also possible to identify the other 3 monthly progress reports and the meetings that they were supplied to? I realise this maybe taken as a new request.

6. Report of the Elizabeth Lawsons Independent Panel 1 year on from Leeways Report. Did this Report happen or has it been lost?

2017 Jan 23 [1d] My Reply 

You replied to my request of 1 Oct 2016 “Thank you for your recent request. Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, subject to the application of any exemptions/exceptions”
I received a response to part of the request on 4 Oct, but a substantial part has not been replied to.

Nor have I received even a reply to my subsequent emails. If I do not receive a reply I will therefore be forced to put in a complaint against you.

Please tell me who the head of Freedom of Information Department is?
Please could you tell me who the Lewisham Council Monitoring Officer is presently?
Please could you tell me why I have not received a reply to my FOI of 1 Oct 2016 nor subsequent emails?
Please answer my requests as Lewisham Council is required to by law.
I gather that my next stage is to ask for an internal review. If I do not receive reply to my requests by 5pm on 25th Jan 2017, please take this a request for Internal Review [1d]

No further progress has been made on the FOI since Jan 23 despite several requests.

Summary of FOI

The Council

  • provided one set of minutes
  • refused two large reports that they claimed would take over 18  hours each to find
  • refused another report on “confidentiality”,  ie  grounds with no legality in FOI
  • maintained one meeting I requested a report for did not happen to which I gave them  information that it did, i heard nothing more
  • claimed not to hold another report
  • have refused to answer any questions or requests about this since

How would they know they did not hold one report yet they claim it would take them 18 hours to search for another?

Summary of Requests Outstanding

1 “After Leeways, Challenges, Changes and Achievements” dossier is apparently approximately 160 pages and was the main Lewisham response to the Inquiry into the horrific situation of Lewisham Council having a child abuser in charge of its childrens home who had abused several children. It should from the size be relatively easy to find within your files. To help me understand could you explain how are Lewishams records from this time filed or catalogued, whether there is a digitised index and also whether Lewishams records are stored in house or via an external agency where a fee has to be paid for searching?
I do not understand what you mean by “individuals” in this sentence “To retrieve this information would require manual checks on all such individuals. “ Could you explain?

2 Review of child services not able to be found. This was a major revamp only 30 years ago. Is this not able to be found easily within the time limit?

3 “Chief Executives Inquiry Report, subsequent to Leeways believed to be February 1986 This information is deemed confidential, and will not be released”
Could you give the exemption Lewisham is claiming under the FOI Act? I also enclose a link to a document which gives some more detail as to the Report for your information.

[Report still not been provided to this site as requested. Attachments been sent to private email, which I do not wish to open as they may be insecure, whereas on this site it is secure and public and where I requested it and where it is Lewisham’s duty to provide it.]

4 Minutes of Report to Council 5 March 1986
This is link to a page 19 that has been supplied to me https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2016/10/0… I believe it to be from the “After Leeways Report” but I could be mistaken. It describes this Report to Council. I wonder whether it would be possible to find it with this help. Is it also possible to identify the other 3 monthly progress reports and the meetings that they were supplied to? I realise this maybe taken as a new request.

5 Report of the Elizabeth Lawsons Independent Panel 1 year on from Leeways Report. Did this Report happen or has it been lost?

6. Internal review on why all information requested has not been provided or questions even addressed.

Kath Nicholson appears to be the central figure in Lewisham as to why the legitimate FOI request is not being processed lawfully or any information is being released nor given about any aspect of the request including an acknowledgment of questions referring to it [16]

It could be seen as worrying that Kath Nicholson has said –

“as local authority lawyers, we are working with politicians and so have to be politically astute, too. My job is to help them do what they want to do. In more than 30 years [in local government], I’ve only said “You can’t do that” once or twice.” [13]

It is also worrying that she admits that her department is not overseeing child protection cases safely –

“The department has 103 live child protection cases being handled by just eight solicitors. ‘An individual solicitor can safely handle between 10 and 12 cases, except my staff are doing adult protection work too,’ says Nicholson. ‘Cases can be hugely complicated, particularly where there are six or seven children in the family.’” [13]

Most worrying is that Kath Nicholson is not doing her job properly as Monitoring Officer, which has widespread repercussions throughout the Council and Lewisham.

The truth about what is child sexual abuse happened in Lewisham Councils “care” is not being revealed because she is not doing that job properly. Perhaps she is helping politicians do what they want rather than do what her Monitoring Officer job is? Perhaps there is a conflict between being Head of Law and Monitoring Officer?

Kath Nicholson, Lewisham Council – Shame on you

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]

Links

[1] 2016 Jun 6 WDTK FOI to Lewisham Council Leeways Childs Home, 17 Edward Rd, Bromley https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/leeways_childs_home_17_edward_rd#outgoing-549340

[1a] 2016 Sept 26 answer https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/leeways_childs_home_17_edward_rd#incoming-872834

[1b] 1985 Jul 23 Meeting of Social Services Committee 17 pages https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/338492/response/872834/attach/3/Leeways.pdf

[1c] 2016 Oct 1 Q https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/leeways_childs_home_17_edward_rd#outgoing-584348

[1d] 2017 Jan 23 Q https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/leeways_childs_home_17_edward_rd#outgoing-616147

[1e] 2017 Jun 1 Second request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/leeways_childs_home_17_edward_rd#outgoing-654591

[2] 2016 Oct 1 Cathy Fox Blog  Lewisham Council Chief Executives Inquiry Leeways Childrens Home https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/lewisham-council-chief-executives-inquiry-leeways-childrens-home/

[3] 2014 Nov 24 cathy fox blog Lewisham Leeways Report and Social Services Minutes July 1985 https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/lewisham-leeways-report-and-social-services-minutes-july-1985/

[4] 2014 Jan 21 cathy fox blog Council Response to Leeways Report https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/council-response-to-leeways-report/

[5] 2013 Nov 12 cathy fox blog The Leeways Inquiry Report into Sexual Abuse https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/the-leeways-inquiry-report-into-sexual-abuse/

[6] 2016 Jan 24 cathy fox blog Paedophilia around Piccadilly Part 5 1980s and Operation Circus https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/paedophilia-around-piccadilly-part-5-1980s-and-operation-circus/

[7] 2014 Sept 16 Cathy Fox Blog Paedophilia around Piccadilly Part 3 -Timeline of a Child Rapist 2 – Roger Gleaves https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/paedophilia-around-piccadilly-part-3-profile-of-a-paedophile-roger-gleaves/

[8] 2015 May 6 cathy fox blog Paedophilia around Piccadilly Part 4 Playland Trial and Cover up https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/paedophilia-around-piccadilly-part-4-playland-trial-and-cover-up/

[9] pic 2

[11] Local Government and Housing Act Section 5  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/42/section/5

[12] Lewisham Senior Managers https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/mayorandcouncil/aboutthecouncil/how-council-is-run/council-structure/Pages/senior-managers.aspx

Kath Nicholson Head of Law Kath has overall responsibility for legal advice to and representation of the Council. It also includes the duties of the Council’s statutory monitoring officer and responsibility for the management of European and national parliamentary and local elections. She manages approximately 50 staff.

Kath is a solicitor with over 34 years’ experience in the public and private sector and holds an MBA in Public Sector Management.

[13] 2013 Oct 14 Law Gazette People Kath Nicholson https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/people/kath-nicholson/5038115.articlehttp://archive.is/HhG3L

leader of a team of 27 fee-earners dealing with child protection, governance, employment, property, litigation and all the other issues that a large inner-city local authority generates. She also found time to co-author a book, A Guide to the Local Government Act 1999, with Trowers & Hamlin partner Helen Randall.

‘As lawyers, we all have to be the goalkeeper who can also take penalties,’ Nicholson tells the Gazette. ‘We have to be proactive while getting the balance right – because nobody wants an overly conservative lawyer. The big difference is that as local authority lawyers, we are working with politicians and so have to be politically astute, too. My job is to help them do what they want to do. In more than 30 years [in local government], I’ve only said “You can’t do that” once or twice.

The pressure is certainly intense. The department has 103 live child protection cases being handled by just eight solicitors. ‘An individual solicitor can safely handle between 10 and 12 cases, except my staff are doing adult protection work too,’ says Nicholson. ‘Cases can be hugely complicated, particularly where there are six or seven children in the family.’

The problem is not confined to child protection, Nicholson adds. Lewisham’s education team is now down to one solicitor, yet more than 90 schools need legal advice on how to become academies. The employment team, moreover, comprises just two solicitors to handle the affairs of thousands of staff. Employment claims commonly arise from the downsizing policies of the council and have included a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) case that went as far as the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg and this country’s Supreme Court.

[14] Foulston http://archive.is/HKFoQ

[15] 1985 Dec 10 WDTK Special Meeting of Social Services Ctte Minutes  https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/184669/response/473239/attach/3/Leeways%20response%2010%2012%2085.pdf

[16] 2017 Jun 14 WDTK https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/leeways_childs_home_17_edward_rd#outgoing-658043

 

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About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
This entry was posted in cathy fox blog, Child Abuse, Child sexual abuse, Childrens home, Freedom of Information Request, Lewisham, London, Operation Circus, pedophile and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to [Le2] Lewisham Council Obstruction of FOI Request

  1. Pingback: [L2] Lewisham Council Obstruction of FOI Request | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE

  2. Pingback: Lewisham Council Obstruction of FOI Request | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE

  3. Pingback: [L2] Lewisham Council Obstruction of FOI Request | L8in

  4. I’m not surprised. Is there a more mendacious council than Lewisham in London? It’s a self serving cosy club of servile officers and councillors. An ex middle management Lewisham officer told me she left in 1980s because 1) she was expected to join the Labour Party if she wanted her career to progress and 2) a case of wondering hands at a high level was ignored. They have obstructed my FOIs time and time again. The ICO did censure them, but clearly Lewisham aren’t bothered. Watch out too for trolls working on behalf of the council.

  5. Pingback: Disclosing Child Sexual Abuse – Anne Wade Cath Fox | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE E mail holliegreigjusticee@gmail.com

  6. Pingback: [Le4] Summary of Information on Lewishams Child Sexual Abuse Documents | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  7. Pingback: [Le5] Lewisham Council – Whistleblower Documents 1 | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  8. Pingback: [Le6] Lewisham Council – Whistleblower Documents 2 – Introduction to Leeways | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  9. Pingback: [Le6] Lewisham Council – Whistleblower Documents 2 – Introduction to Leeways | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  10. Pingback: cathy fox Le6] Lewisham Council – Whistleblower Documents 2 – Introduction to Leeways | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE E mail holliegreigjusticee@gmail.com

  11. Pingback: Lewisham Council – Whistleblower Documents 2 – Introduction to Leeways — cathy fox blog on child abuse | L8in

  12. Pingback: [Le7] Lewisham Council – Whistleblower Documents 3 – After Leeways Report | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  13. Pingback: fox attack in Lewisham | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE

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