Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Information Commissioner Says: Not Me Guv

Ed Balls made a statement to the House of Commons this lunchtime on the Baby P case. Michael Gove, responding, said this...
The Secretary of State knows that the hon. Members for Yeovil (Mr. Laws), and for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), and I have asked to see the serious case review of the handling of baby P’s case. Regrettably, the Secretary of State’s hands are tied, because the Information Commissioner has ruled that serious case reviews cannot be released to Opposition politicians because of the risk of identifying the professionals involved, and the fear that the professionals who made a mistake may not therefore co-operate with reviews. Does he not agree with me that it is quite wrong to put the interests of a bureaucracy that has failed ahead of proper scrutiny? Is it not wrong that the law as it stands prevents the constituency Member from finding out what happened in the case? Does he agree with me that the law needs to change?
In response, Ed Balls said...

The hon. Gentleman will know, as I wrote to him and to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) this morning, that yesterday I endeavoured to see whether I was able to release the full, confidential, serious case review to parliamentarians, but the clear professional advice given to me was that that would be the wrong thing to do, given the ruling of the Information Commissioner and the importance of making sure that in future, serious case reviews are done properly.
However, this evening, the Information Commissioner has denied making any such ruling...

The ICO has not been consulted in relation to the release of the case review file regarding the tragic circumstances of the 'Baby P' case. We have not made a ruling on this case ... There will be circumstances where reports need to be scrutinised by select committees and other bodies to ensure that important lessons are learned. Data protection does not prevent appropriate individuals from accessing relevant information in these circumstances.
So, who told Michael Gove that the Information Commissioner had ruled in this way? On the face of it, Ed Balls has some serious questions to answer.

UPDATE: Red Box has more.

Hat-tip: Old Holborn.

26 comments:

Ed Balls said...

So what?

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Spinning, stinking, festering, felching, fisting, putrid bog of eternal stench that is lying New Labour.

Iain Dale said...

Ed, surely you mean, "so weak"?!

Old Holborn said...

I have a rather interesting memo sent to Haringey Council telling them to "reduce legal costs in child custody cases". Leaving a child with his parents is £4000 cheaper than a lawyer charges to take him into care

More later

Guthrum said...

What happened to Ministers who deliberately lied to the Commons in the old days ?

Anonymous said...

Blinky Balls burbling his bollocks once more. Looks like Labour may be in fear of the swelling Baby P outcry. Is it spinning out of the grip of melordMandy and his UK destruction gang?

Anonymous said...

Why then would Balls want to withold this information? I dont wish to cast aspertions but i do wonder if there is evidence in the detail that Ministers of the crown well and truly fuckeed this one up. I mean, we know the concerns of a social worker were reported to some ministers who failed to act.

No. Sorry. This would be to suggest that this honorable, caring, selfless Labour govt would seek to play party politics with such a sensitive issue. I am evil to even think such a thing.

evil g said...

Nobody should believe a word that comes out of Balls mouth.

Both he and his dear wife are professional politicians that are happy to do and say "whatever it takes" to make their way to the top of the labour party.

chiefofmen said...

gordon brown and ed balls are both ex treasury figures who designed this financial scenario and as such are accessories to this murder.now they are trying to cover there tracks.god help us all.may the tottenham one rest in peace.

Anoneumouse said...

Do they have a "Common Purpose" in keeping this secret

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

Considering the case that is being investigated and the circumstances around it, this obfuscation from Ed Balls is disgraceful in the extreme. I am absolutely disgusted with Ed Balls (and I never thought I could dislike the the odious little toad any more than I already do).

J R Hartley said...

He's a financial guru you know !

Just as Gordon is a hopeless PM, Ed Balls is a disgraceful MP.

He has no shame - sadly the dumb sh*tes who make up his constituency will vote for him regardless...

word verif - hildo !!

Anonymous said...

In 2002 there was a critical report on Haringey Social Services. This followed an even more critical report in 2000. The 2002 report is at:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsInspectionReports/DH_4010652.

Now wasn't Yvette Cooper a Minster in the Department of Health in 2002 when this landed on someone's desk? I haven't a clue if she dealt with it in any way but perhaps she may be able to fill Ed in on some of the details? He obviously has some difficulty in getting accurate briefing from the Department (We assume)

strapworld said...

Something stinks! and Michael Gove was spot on. Obviously his advice was that he had been told porkies.

He thought, correctly, that Balls would not mention it in his statement but, through a truly forensic question, got Balls to accept the statement and comment upon it.

BALLS has not lied to the House but he has certainly misled it!

Humble Pie will be eaten now and the report will be handed to Gove, Lib Dems especially the admirable Lynn Featherstone.

Well done GOVE.

Anthony said...

Did Ed tell porkies in the House then?
I do hope so.

Chris Paul said...

Both Gove and Balls had this story ... and it was Gove that introduced it according to your account ... so why is it Balls that has questions to answer rather than the ICO or the intermediaries between the ICO and the politicians?

There isn't any obvious political advantage here for anyone in not sharing the report, but there is a managerial, technocratic interest in facilitating future participation in reviews by not spooking the horses.

Refer back to Unity at Ministry of Truth for some real proportionality and good sense on this tragic case.

Chris Paul said...

"Forensic question"? You mean Gove having been given the same story as the Minister? I'm expecting different things to come out of this matter than you are Iain. ICO they speak with forked tongue.

Anonymous said...

The issue isn't 'did he lie or mislead'? It's WHY did he do it. We must not let them stop at the defence, 'whoops we made a little mistake so we have now released it and its now all ok.'

What are they hiding?

Anonymous said...

Given the huge public interest in this case and that we know " all " the names anyway why has Balls been so foolish as to try to deny us sight of this report ?

Is there a big bad chunk of stuff that has not yet been aired in public ?

Anonymous said...

"There isn't any obvious political advantage here for anyone in not sharing the report"

That rather depends on what the report said and what else may be uncovered around what then happened to it, who knew what and, above all, who bothered to do anything about it, doesn't it.

For example, while all this was going on, what were Councillors told? What decisions were made? Was it all concealed from them, were officers following politically led policies or were the councillors just totally unaware - and not in control?

Anonymous said...

One final point on Balls argument.

The key players in the SCR are all public employees. Why is it not a contractual or legal requirement for them all to answer questions on their roles / what happened? If it isn't, shouldn't Balls make damn sure that it immediately becomes a contract term or legal requirement?

The only grounds to then refuse to cooperate would be if they believed it would incriminate them! But if that was the situation one would expect they would do that anyway and the police should be called in for a criminal investigation!

It has become quite fashionable to prosecute police offers for misfeasance in public office. Perhaps we should start to look at a few others who take public money for stunning levels of incompetence.

Whoops....there goes the Treasury...Home Office...Health ....

Gareth said...

Chris Paul said: Both Gove and Balls had this story ... and it was Gove that introduced it according to your account ... so why is it Balls that has questions to answer rather than the ICO or the intermediaries between the ICO and the politicians?

You don't think, perhaps, maybe, that Balls and Gove had already discussed the matter and were simply going through the motions of announcing it in Parliament then. As Balls said in the excerpts Iain has posted, he wrote to Gove yesterday morning. That is how Gove was aware of Balls' position.

Why should the ICO answer any questions? They haven't been asked to look at the issue of releasing this SCR. Balls has alleged that on professional advice (from whom?) it would be wrong to release the SCR to opposition MPs.

Pete Chown said...

If publication was to take place in Parliament, wouldn't Balls be protected by Parliamentary privilege anyway?

Weygand said...

There appear to be one or two deliberately missing the point.

Balls said (as highlighted in bold)
"given the ruling of the Information Commissioner"

He does not say whether this was a specific ruling in this case or another case or a general ruling but clearly set out to give the impression that an ICO ruling prevented him granting the request and so shift the responsibility for the refusal to them.

Balls' statement was deliberately unclear so that he did not have to actually tell a lie. This is a notorious NuLab tactic but one that even the general public now recognise.

In the circumstances the ICO were bound to issue a statement clarifying the position.

Nothing does more to undermine respect for the political system than this Mandelsonian behaviour and it is this that will ensure that, whatever the economic situation, NuLab will lose the next General Election

Anonymous said...

Anoneumouse said...
Do they have a "Common Purpose" in keeping this secret

November 20, 2008 10:02 PM

With all this blather about the member list of the BNP, looking at blogs this morning, many are looking for someone to hijack the Labour Party membership and post on the internet.

Much, much more interesting would be a membership list of Common Purpose. I think we may see a whole load of reasons for the current political and media situation.

Any offers?

trevorsden said...

Well pointed out Gareth. Chris Paul is either thick or wilfully missing the point.

The reason Gove knew that he was not allowed to see the info was that Balls had previously told him that he had been told so by the Commissioner.


Paul can wheedle all he likes but that statement is patently false. Balls lied.

Typically Balls did not answer the question and did not agree that the law needed to change - perhaps because he knew that in fact the law was not as restrictive as he claimed.

Labour has failed to protect our economy. It has failed to protect our education standards. It has failed to protect our soldiers.
It has failed to protect our children - and its highly likely that social workers are failing because of the culture of bureaucracy red tape and targets placed on them by labour. No wonder Balls is so secretive and brown so thin skinned.