Remember the case of Cheshire West and Chester Council, the authority which sent out a press release about its plans to charge for FOI requests?
It made its announcement and pledged to get a team of officers on the case to work out how they would actually do this.
Not much has been said of it since then – probably because they did what I did, and rang the Information Commissioner’s office only to be told that no, councils can’t just start charging for FOI requests.
Anyway, Cheshire West and Chester Council has come up with another way of silencing those who like to ask awkward questions: It made someone who is either on its payroll or no longer on its payroll sign an agreement not to submit FOI requests or Data Protection Act requests.
According to this FOI request posted on Whatdotheyknow the council was asked:
The number of current employees / ex-employees who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s legal team, to forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.
The answer was: 1.
Finding out the background to this would be fascinating. It appears that Cheshire West and Chester Council is the authority which likes to say: Shhhhhhh