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Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 22.06.10 19:31

The latest in the Home Office's attempts to explain why they are taking so long to answer 12 straightforward questions about a possible review or re-investigation of the Madeleine McCann case.

This is not confidential.

Tony Benentt
Secretary
The Madeleine Foundation



--- On Tue, 22/6/10, Lister Ian (IMS) wrote:


From: Lister Ian (IMS)
Subject: RE: Home Office FoI request CR14428 PLUS FOUR MORE FOI QUESTIONS and COMPLAINT
To: "ANTHONY BENNETT"
Date: Tuesday, 22 June, 2010, 14:03


Dear Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for your email of the 17th June 2010 about your ongoing request under the Freedom of Information Act that we received on the 22nd March 2010, in which you asked the twelve questions which you have detailed below.

I would like to apologise again for the amount of time it has taken to provide a substantive answer to your request. I appreciate that the fact that your request is still ongoing might appear to indicate that we are deliberately delaying our response to you or that we are trying to obfuscate the matter. I would like to reassure you that this is not the case.

The questions that you have asked relate to an investigation into the disappearance of a missing child; an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time, as I am sure you are aware. Whilst your questions ask for the release of simple facts, as you put it, we must be extremely careful that our answers to those questions and the release of any information that we may or may not hold, does not prejudice this investigation, any relations between UK and Portuguese authorities or would be otherwise prejudicial to the effect conduct of public affairs.

I acknowledge that this matter is of significant interest to a large number of people and that there is great deal of ongoing speculation about the stage of investigation. As you have said, there is huge public interest in ascertaining what happen to Madeleine McCann. However, the ‘public interest’ that we consider in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Act, is not the same as what might be of interest to public, or what they might find interesting. In carrying out a Public Interest Test we consider the greater good or benefit to the community as a whole if the information is released or not. The ‘right to know’ that is provided by the FoI Act must be balanced against the need to enable effective government and to serve the best interests of the public.

Furthermore, the FoI Act is ‘applicant blind’. This means that we cannot, and do not, ask about the motives of anyone who asks for information. In providing a response to one person, we are expressing a willingness to provide the same response to anyone, including those who might, in some circumstances, represent a threat to the UK. In this instance, we must also consider whether or not our answers to your questions could be used by some members of the public to prejudice the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

We have to balance, on one hand, the inherent public interest in the Home Office being open and accountable whilst, on the other hand, how the public interest would be served by us providing answers that could prejudice these investigations or be otherwise detrimental to the work of the police, the government and the McCann family in their efforts to locate Madeleine. Would it be in the best interest of the public for the Home Office to be seen as releasing information that might prejudice the investigation? Probably not. Would it be in the public interest for the Home Office to release information that could potentially jeopardise relationships between the United Kingdom and policing authorities with which cooperate around the world? Would these authorities be willing to work with us in the future if we released information that potentially prejudices an ongoing investigation? The answer to both is no. Would it be in the public interest to release information that could help Madeleine’s captor evade detection and arrest? Most certainly not.

These are some of the considerations we are currently considering. Simply because the questions are direct and would only require simple answers, does not mean that potential prejudicial effects of providing those answers would not be far reaching. Whilst we do not doubt that, as a concerned member of the public, you are interested in ascertaining what information the Home Office holds on this matter, we must consider the possibility that some individuals may use this information to their advantage and not for the benefit of the community as a whole.

I would therefore like to apologise once again for the time it is taking us to provide you a response to your questions. Please be assured that this is because the subject matter is extremely sensitive and not because we are trying to obfuscate the matter or be deliberately awkward. Please also be assured that I am aware that we have exceeded the twenty working day deadline provided under s.10(1) of the Act and that, despite legitimately extending this deadline under s.10(3) of the Act, we have also exceed the forty working day guideline provided by the Information Commission. The Home Office does aim to provide a prompt response to all FoI requests but, in some cases, where the information is particularly sensitive, we do need to take some extra time to make sure we have considered all the aspects relevant to that case.

In regards to the four new questions which you have asked us to consider, these will need to be treated as a separate request. This is because a valid FoI request under s.8 of the FoI Act only concerns information that was held at the time a request was received. Because your new questions concern information that might have been recorded since your original request was received, we will need to consider it separately. In light of this, I would be grateful if you can confirm that you would like us to answer these questions separately.

Thank you again for your interest in the Home Office and for your patience in this matter. If you have any more questions about the handling of your request, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help.

Yours sincerely,

Ian

Ian Lister
Information Access Consultant
Information Access Team

Tel: 020 7035 6065
Email: ian.lister@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: ANTHONY BENNETT [mailto:ajsbennett@btinternet.com]
Sent: 17 June 2010 8:14 PM
To: Information Access; FOI Responses; Lister Ian (IMS); Public Enquiries (CD)
Subject: Home Office FoI request CR14428 PLUS FOUR MORE FOI QUESTIONS and COMPLAINT

Dear Mr Lister,



COMPLAINT re 3-month delay in answering 12 FOI Questions on 19 March



Note: This e-mail is NOT confidential



On 21 April you wrote and told me that the Home Office were unable to answer my 12 questions about Madeleine McCann in the normal 20-day period required under the Freedom of Information Act, because you needed more time to consider whether answering any or all of these 12 questions was or was not 'in the public interest' (see your e-mail below).



REST SNIPPED




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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Guest on 22.06.10 19:40

The questions that you have asked relate to an investigation into the disappearance of a missing child; an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time, as I am sure you are aware

Very interesting, so it is still an ongoing investigation in the UK? So why are the McCanns asking for the case to be re-opened, and having meetings with Alan Johnson? Surely if the UK is still investigating, and they must have the co-operation of the Portuguese police why all the hoo ha about noone looking for Madeleine?? Confusing or what?? The papers should have a copy of this letter and ask the question, why are the McCanns saying no police force is looking for Madeleine, and they have to employ their own private detectives. confused

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Cherry on 22.06.10 19:49

I am sure this will upset some people who wanted to believe there was no ongoing investigation going on so it is good to see this confirmed here.

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Autumn on 22.06.10 20:06

Exactly Cherry, now it has been finally confirmed by the Home Office that the investigation is on-going, the McCanns and their supporters can no longer bleat that the police are doing nothing.

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 22.06.10 20:13

And why the need for the fund if there is an ongoing police investigation? The McCanns must know there is an ongoing investigation.

Why the need for Leicester police to link to the McCanns fundraising website? The police must know there is an ongoing investigation.

Why the need for UHL to link to the McCanns fundraising website?

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by littlepixie on 22.06.10 20:18

Would it be in the public interest to release information that could
help Madeleine’s captor evade detection and arrest? Most certainly not Quote//

Another poster picked up on this - what's all this "captor" about?

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Judge Mental on 22.06.10 20:21

One suspects that the Home Office is still following the ridiculous notion of 'abduction'. Not a neutral stance is it?

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Guest on 22.06.10 20:26

Actually, that would be a really GOOD question to ask the Home Office. Why did the McCanns do interview after interview, all over the place, article after article in newspapers say noone was looking for Madeleine. Are the police keeping their investigation hush hush from them. I don't think so somehow. So, as you say Jill, what would be the need for this fund raising event etc., and asking people for money if the police are doing the job, there should be no need for private investigators.

This I think is a very important issue. It should be asked of the Home Office. The public are being led to believe an incorrect version as usual. But why didn't Alan Johnson mention this. Come to think of it has anyone from the Police of HO ever said this was an ongoing investigation.. never. If I remember correctly, all we have had are people saying " this is a Poprtuguese investigation, and the UK police can only asssist.

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Laffin Assasin on 22.06.10 20:31

@littlepixie wrote:Would it be in the public interest to release information that could
help Madeleine’s captor evade detection and arrest? Most certainly not Quote//

Another poster picked up on this - what's all this "captor" about?

Assailant might have been a more appropriate word.

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 22.06.10 20:34

The General Medical Council said it was an ongoing investigation and that's why they wouldn't answer my FOI.

Maybe they're just playing pass the parcel again.

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'candyfloss' has hit the nail bang on the head

Post by Tony Bennett on 22.06.10 21:42

candyfloss wrote:The questions that you have asked relate to an investigation into the disappearance of a missing child; an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time, as I am sure you are aware

Very interesting, so it is still an ongoing investigation in the UK? So why are the McCanns asking for the case to be re-opened, and having meetings with Alan Johnson? Surely if the UK is still investigating, and they must have the co-operation of the Portuguese police why all the hoo ha about noone looking for Madeleine?? Confusing or what?? The papers should have a copy of this letter and ask the question, why are the McCanns saying no police force is looking for Madeleine, and they have to employ their own private detectives.
Nail right on the head, 'candyfloss'.

There is an ongoing investigation.

So why the need for 'reviews' and 're-investigations' etc.?

Next question: which police force(s) is/are doing the investigations and who is the current Senior Investigating Officer?

The lies at the heart of this whole affair can't be contained for ever.

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The Home Office e-mails that raise more questions than ever

Post by Tony Bennett on 22.06.10 21:49

jkh wrote:Are you going to put those questions to them Tony?
I asked 12 on 19 March.

I asked a further four on 17 June.

I will most certainly now ask which police forces are currently investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and who are the current Senior Investigating Officers.

That will make 18.

I will happily ask the Home Office or any other agency any factual questions that come within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. I invite suggested further questions for the Home Office from forum members.

I would invite others to ask any of the 16 questions I've asked so far or to join with me in asking which police forces are investigating Madeleine's disappearance and who are the current S.I.O.s.

It's easy to ask a FOI question.

Send your e-mails to these two address:

info.access@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk,
public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

And copy them to these e-mail addresses:

FOIResponses@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk,
Ian.Lister@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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Twitter tweets tonight

Post by Tony Bennett on 22.06.10 23:16

Twitter tweets tonight...

...on that Home Office letter:


OriginalShuBob HO FOI reply: "...an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time". Is that so? Who's leading investigation in UK? #McCann about 1 hour ago via web

@Lilemor1 Could HO have been referring to Edgar and Cowley lol? #McCann

GaeMar01 When is a reply, not a reply? > When it is a #McCann FOI request to the Home Office. http://bit.ly/aShtAf about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

GaeMar01 @ homeoffice #McCann FOI request CR14428 "subject matter is extremely sensitve"for a reply in excess of 40 working days http://bit.ly/aShtAf

macybea Home office still can`t answer simple questions about Madeleine #McCann http://bit.ly/bTjkoL Why the secrecy re Freedom of info request? about 3 hours ago via web

Mairy_Hinge campaigns: http://bit.ly/acN6UY via @addthis More #McCann flim flammery #ismellbullshit about 2 hours ago via web

santi_girl @5haronl a classic Sir Humphrey reply :-) #FOI #McCann

veniviedivici http://bit.ly/c50lyo Home Office #McCann FOI holding letter #investigation #Mitchell Lewis_PR #Ceop #SKY #BBC #PORTUGAL

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Three more letters to the Home Office FOI Section

Post by Tony Bennett on 23.06.10 9:54

Three more letters to the Home Office Freedom of Information Section:

LETTER ONE

Dear Mr Lister,

I will reply to your e-mail in three separate e-mails.

By this e-mail I refer to your penultimate paragraph, which states:

In regards to the four new questions which you have asked us to consider, these will need to be treated as a separate request. This is because a valid FoI request under s.8 of the FoI Act only concerns information that was held at the time a request was received. Because your new questions concern information that might have been recorded since your original request was received, we will need to consider it separately. In light of this, I would be grateful if you can confirm that you would like us to answer these questions separately.

I fully agree, for the precise reasons you give in your e-mail, that these are new questions and should therefore be given a new FOI Act reference number and dealt with accordingly.

Yours sincerely

Tony Bennett

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LETTER TWO

Dear Mr Lister,

In your letter below, you stated the following:

The questions that you have asked relate to an investigation into the disappearance of a missing child; an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time, as I am sure you are aware.

In fact, I was not aware of this - and this is one of the many reasons for asking reasonable questions of the Home Office, in order to obtain information about this high profile case.

The public has been assiduously asked for help in terms of time and money by the McCanns and their advisers, and the government has clearly been involved, as in the case of the McCanns meeting with Alan Johnson and Home Office civil servants for example.

In such circumstances, the public, having become involved at the McCanns' request in terms of being asked to look for Madeleine and to raise money to search for her, are entitled to ask questions about government involvement in meeting them and assisting them, so long of course as no investigation is compromised by the answers to any questions asked under the Freedom of Information Act.

It is not generally known that there is an ongoing investigation in the U.K. into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, indeed many contrary impressions have been given on this issue by certain parties, and I am grateful to you for clarifying that.

However, that does give rise to two further Freedom of Information Act questions, namely:

1) Please state which police force (s) in the U.K. is/are currently investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

2) Please give the current name(s) and rank(s) of the Senior Investigating Officers of any police force in the U.K. investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

I confirm that these should be treated as new questions and not as part of the questions I asked in my e-mails of 19 March and 17 June.

Sincerely

Tony Bennett

LETTER THREE

Dear Mr Lister

CR14428 - Scoping exercise, review and re-investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

In relation to your e-mail yesterday in which you gave reasons why it is taking the Home Office an exceptionally long time to decide whether you can answer any of the 12 questions, you made a number of observations.

Some of these are particularly pertinent to the issue of whether you should disclose the information sought, especially in the light of (a) the huge public interest in this case and (b) the general FOI principle that the information sought should be disclosed, unless there are very good reasons for non-disclosure.

(1) If you have any more questions about the handling of your request, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help.

(2) The questions that you have asked relate to an investigation into the disappearance of a missing child; an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time, as I am sure you are aware.

(3) We must be extremely careful that our answers to those questions and the release of any information that we may or may not hold, does not prejudice this investigation,

(4) We must be extremely careful that our answers to those questions and the release of any information that we may or may not hold, does not prejudice any relations between UK and Portuguese authorities. Would it be in the public interest for the Home Office to release information that could potentially jeopardise relationships between the United Kingdom and policing authorities with which cooperate around the world? Would these authorities be willing to work with us in the future if we released information that potentially prejudices an ongoing investigation? The answer to both is no.

(5) We must be extremely careful that our answers to those questions and the release of any information that we may or may not hold would be otherwise prejudicial to the effect [sic] conduct of public affairs.

(6) I acknowledge that this matter is of significant interest to a large number of people.

(7) In carrying out a Public Interest Test we consider the greater good or benefit to the community as a whole if the information is released or not.

(8) The ‘right to know’ that is provided by the FoI Act must be balanced against the need to enable effective government and to serve the best interests of the public.

(9) We must also consider whether or not our answers to your questions could be used by some members of the public to prejudice the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

(10) How the public interest would be served by us providing answers that could prejudice these investigations or be otherwise detrimental to the work of the police, the government and the McCann family in their efforts to locate Madeleine. Would it be in the best interest of the public for the Home Office to be seen as releasing information that might prejudice the investigation? Probably not.

(11) Would it be in the public interest to release information that could help Madeleine’s captor evade detection and arrest? Most certainly not.

(12) Whilst we do not doubt that, as a concerned member of the public, you are interested in ascertaining what information the Home Office holds on this matter, we must consider the possibility that some individuals may use this information to their advantage and not for the benefit of the community as a whole.

(13) Please be assured that this is because the subject matter is extremely sensitive...in some cases, where the information is particularly sensitive, we do need to take some extra time to make sure we have considered all the aspects relevant to that case.

We are grateful for your response in paragraph (1) above and this letter of mine does indeed now raise a number of questions about the Home Office's handling of the case. I appreciate the length of your letter and its careful setting out of the issues you have been considering. I have the following observations or questions on your letter.

I note your choice of words in paragraph (13) above, where you state that the 'subject matter' is not merely 'sensitive' or 'very sensitive', but even 'particularly sensitive' or 'extremely sensitive'. However, you do not make clear whether by 'the subject matter' you mean the whole issue of the reasons around why Madeleine McCann was reported missing or whether you mean the subject matter raised by my 12 questions. I should be most grateful if you could please clarify that.

It has been made public that the McCanns have had a face-to-face meeting with the former Home Secretary Alan Johnson. It has also been made public that the McCanns, and possibly their advisers, have met with Home Office civil servants. I cannot see how, given that these facts have been made public already, it could be deemed 'extremely sensitive' just to provide to the public at large the dates of those meetings.

Dealing with paragraphs (10) and (11) above, you refer specifically to Madeleine's 'captor' and raise the issue of whether releasing any information could hinder the efforts of the police, the government and the McCann family to locate Madeleine.

As I am sure the Home Office must be fully aware, an interim report in the Portuguese Police investigation, filed by Tavares de Almeida on 10 September 2007, expressly and in great details stated how various lines of forensic and circumstantial evidence pointed to Madeleine McCann having died in Apartment 5A and specifically suggested that the parents may have had an involvement in concealing her body. Moreover, the final report of the Portuguese Police and Attorney-General dated 21 July 2008, whilst stating that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any individual, nevertheless also explicitly stated that amongst the criminal offences still under consideration were not only abduction but also those of homicide and hiding a body.

Whilst I am sure everyone hopes that Madeleine might be found alive and well, it is surely not right for the Home Office to speak of Madeleine's 'captor' when (a) it is not known that she is in captivity and (b) it is not even certain that she was abducted.

This will inevitably enhance suspicions that the Home Office is not approaching with strict neutrality the issue of a possible 'review' of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann or, similarly, a possible 're-investigation'. How, for example, could answering questions about when the Minister and civil servants met with the McCanns, whether or not there has been a 'scoping exercise' or a 'review' carried out by a police force, or about when decisions were made about the involvement of Jim Gamble. 'prejudice an ongoing investigation'? Moreover, your paragraph (6) sets the wider context here. The issue of what really happened to Madeleine McCann is one in which huge number sof the public take a very great interest.


Many of them have contributed money to the search for Madeleine. The public is entitled to know how its government is dealing with the issue of finding out what really happened to Madeleine.

So, paragraph (10) above should have been more neutrally phrased as follows:

"How the public interest would be served by us providing answers that could prejudice these investigations or be otherwise detrimental to the work of the police, the government and the McCann family to find out what really happened to Madeleine McCann".

Similarly, paragraph (11), in order to be neutral and be seen as neutral, should have been phrased: "Would it be in the public interest to release information that could help find out what really happened to Madeleine McCann? Most certainly not".

Dealing now with our 12 original questions, and considering the issues you have helpfully raised in your recent response, I must first of all point out that my questions do not relate to what is happening within the current investigation that you mention but, on the contrary, relate to numerous reports of the Home Office being actively involved in considering a 'review' and a 're-investigation'. Therefore your paragraph (2) above is incorrect. I am not asking questions about a current investigation. I am asking questions about a proposed review and proposed 're-investigation'.

Furthermore, I have taken care to ask questions only of the Home Office's involvement and not about the actions of the police force(s) currently investigating what really happened to Madeleine McCann.

I have considered your statement in paragraph numbered (4) above. After carefully reviewing the 12 questions I asked, I really cannot see that the Home Office providing a truthful, factual answer to any of them could possibly impair relations between the U.K. and Portuguese governments.

Again, on the wider question of whether answering any of my questions could in any way interfere with or prejudice a current investigation, it is impossible to see how any of such answers could possibly do so.

Here are my 12 questions:

[size=14]1. On what date or dates has the Home Secretary Alan Johnson had meetings with one or both of the McCanns?

2. Who else was present at these meetings: in particular, was any lawyer or other adviser for the McCanns present?

3. On what dates did meetings take place between one or both of the McCanns and staff of the Home Office?

4. Please identify all the staff who met with the McCanns and again identify whether the McCanns had legal or other representatives with them.

5. On what date did the McCanns first approach the Home Office asking for a review or re-investigation by a British police force into Madeleine’s disappearance?

6. Is the Home Office carrying out what the Daily Telegraph called ‘a scoping exercise’ to evaluate what form any review or re-investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance may take’ and, if so, on what date did that scoping exercise commence

7. Why, according to the press, was Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Mr Jim Gamble, given the role of advising the Home Office as to which police force should carry out any review or re-investigation?

8. On what date did the Home Secretary ask Mr Gamble to perform this role?

9. On what date did Mr Gamble make his recommendation?

10. Did he, as reported, recommend West Yorkshire Police to carry out a review or re-investigation?

11. Has West Yorkshire Police, as reported, been asked to carry out a review or re-investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

12. If so, what is the brief or remit that the Home Office has given to West Yorkshire Police?


I cannot see how answering any of these could prejudice an existing or future investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Arguably, if the Home Office has given a remit to West Yorkshire Police or to any other police force, or is going to do so, to disclose its precise remit might compromise an investigation. However, if for example the remit for any re-investigation were to be along the lines of: "The Police Force has been asked to investigate all possible lines of enquiry about what happened to Madeleine McCann", it is hard to see how such a bald statement of any remit could possibly hinder either any current investigation or any future re-investigation.

Each of the 12 questions will have to be considered in isolation as to whether its answer could or could not prejudice an existing or future investigation.

You referred in paragraph (5) above to the possibility that answering some of our questions could 'prejudice the conduct of public affairs'. The Home Office is funded by the taxpayer and carries out its functions on behalf of the citizens and residents of this country. Its actions must serve the public and the public interest. Whilst answering questions which seek information about current or past police investigations is rightly seen by the FOI Act as potentially prejudicial to the interests of those actually involved in the case and as potentially prejudicial to the wider public interest of ensuring that members of the public are encourage to disclose valuable information to the police, I cannot see how answering any one of the 12 questions, with the possible exception of Question 12, could 'prejudice the conduct of public affairs'.

Furthermore, I would draw your attention to a statement made on 31 May this year by Prime Minister David Cameron, on behalf of the Coalition Government, reported on the BBC website the same day, where he dealt with 'ripping off the cloak of secrecy around government and public services'. Here, verbatim. is how the BBC reported this:

"Prime Minister David Cameron has set out plans to make more government data accessible to the public. Mr Cameron said he wanted to rip off the 'cloak of secrecy' around government and public services - and extend transparency as far as possible".

This is no doubt an additional consideration for you and the FOI team at the Home Office.

So far as paragraphs (9) and (12) are concerned, it would be necessary for the Home Office to spell out how disclosing information in answer to the 12 questions could possibly be used to 'prejudice the ongoing investigation' into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The claim that the Home Office could refuse to answer an otherwise legitimate FOI question by an individual if that individual could then use that factual answer (paragraph (12) above) to his/her 'advantage' is novel. I submit that the Home Office needs to weigh the public benefit of transparency in what is a case of overwhelming public interest, and must take into full account the recent statement of David Cameron on 'ripping off the cloak of secrecy' from the culture of governments withholding information from the public. The answer to my 12 questions will make the British public better informed about the nature and extent of government involvement in the case of Madeleine McCann. That is the simple rationale behind my questions.

Finally, referring to paragraph (11) from your e-mail, if indeed Madeleine was abducted, it is impossible for me to see how answering any of my questions would aid him or her, although I would allow that answering Question 12 in detail might cause a prejudice.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Tony Bennett
66 Chippingfield
HARLOW
Essex
CM17 0DJ
Tel: 01279 635789
Mobile: 07835 716537




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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by ufercoffy on 23.06.10 10:43

Well done Tony and thank you for replying to the HO to keep the pressure on them to answer. All the HO are achieving is to make it look as though there really is government intervention to prevent the truth of what happened to Madeleine from becoming known. The more they do that, the more people will continue to follow this case and ask questions. Those in authority need to realise that people will not go away until the truth is known.

This case gets more and more sinister with the passage of time and I, for one, wonder how many other children have vanished like this and for what reason.

All we can do is to continue putting pressure on those in authority to get to the bottom of this.

Now where is erm....Jo these days? As a freelance photojournalist he should take these letters and shove it in an editor's hand and get it in the press.

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CEOP should be abolished

Post by Tony Bennett on 23.06.10 14:32

Received from a Madeleine Foundation supporter this afternoon:

Thanks for the emails, your letter No. 3 is very pertinent. Further to your point about David Cameron's aim for government and public service transparency, the No 10 website (you're probably aware) Home page has a link to the 'Coalition Programme for Government' document and welcomes comments on the issues. This link is for the Contact page:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/footer/contact-us

With the government's stated aim to abolish ineffective quangos, it would be possible to suggest that the government should rein in CEOP (exempt from Freedom of Information Act I believe) and Jim Gamble's publicly-biased support of the McCanns'.unproven abduction theory, when he and CEOP should only have a neutral role in an ongoing investigation.

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Autumn on 23.06.10 15:10

@Tony Bennett wrote:
jkh wrote:Are you going to put those questions to them Tony?
I asked 12 on 19 March.

I asked a further four on 17 June.

I will most certainly now ask which police forces are currently investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and who are the current Senior Investigating Officers.

That will make 18.

I will happily ask the Home Office or any other agency any factual questions that come within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. I invite suggested further questions for the Home Office from forum members.

I would invite others to ask any of the 16 questions I've asked so far or to join with me in asking which police forces are investigating Madeleine's disappearance

and who are the current S.I.O.s.

It's easy to ask a FOI question.

Send your e-mails to these two address:

info.access@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk,
public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

And copy them to these e-mail addresses:

FOIResponses@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk,
Ian.Lister@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk




Well done Tony we need to keep at them - perhaps it would be a good idea to post these e-mail addresses on other forums, facebook etc and get as many people involved as we can to help keep the pressure on.

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Tony Bennett on 23.06.10 15:46

@Autumn wrote:...we need to keep at them - perhaps it would be a good idea to post these e-mail addresses on other forums, Facebook etc and get as many people involved as we can to help keep the pressure on.
'Autumn', thank you.

I am not au fait with how sites like Facebook and Twitter work, but I would agree that there is much to be gain by large numbers of the genral public asking these questions.

In response, I have reduced the 18 questions I've asked to just nine, and have slightly amended and updated some of them.

Here then is a list of those nine recommended questions and the e-mail addresses to send them to:


The Home Office and Madeleine McCann: The 9 Key FOI Act Questions

1. On what date or dates has the Home Secretary Alan Johnson had meetings with one or both of the McCanns?

2. On what dates have meetings taken place between one or both of the McCanns and staff of the Home Office?

3. On what date did the McCanns first approach the Home Office to discuss a possible review or re-investigation by a British police force into Madeleine’s disappearance?

4. Has the Home Office carried out or commissioned what the Daily Telegraph called ‘a scoping exercise’ to evaluate what form any review or re-investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance may take’ and, if so, on what dates did that scoping exercise commence and conclude?

5. Why, according to the press, was Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Mr Jim Gamble, given the role of advising the Home Office as to which police force should carry out any review or re-investigation?

6. On what date did the Home Secretary ask Mr Gamble to perform this role?

7. On what date did Mr Gamble make his recommendation?

8. Has any police force been asked to carry out a review or re-investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

9. Which U.K. police force is currently investigating possible crimes committed in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?


Home Office e-mail addresses to send to:

info.acess@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

And copy them to these e-mail addresses:

FOIResponses@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Ian.Lister@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by ufercoffy on 23.06.10 18:19

The Pro's are positively hysterical on raptors site about these letters to and from the HO

Will you please stop rattling cages Mr Bennett?

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Laffin Assasin on 24.06.10 0:25

Might I suggest some of you become more aware of "Twitter" it's a good tool for spreading "instant" news.

I don't fully understand the "nuances" of it yet, but I've figured out the "basics".

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Re: Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office

Post by Laffin Assasin on 29.06.10 17:51

It started in America, no not the "Banking Crisis" the FOIA.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/22/AR2010062205220.html

The District's top lawyer is seeking more time to respond to public requests for government information, saying the city is inundated with complex inquiries and has less money and manpower than in the past to comply with D.C.'s open records law.

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76 working days and counting - 56 more than the legal maximum of 20

Post by Tony Bennett on 09.07.10 9:38

My 12 fairly simple questions to the Home Office were asked on Friday 19 March.

The law [Freedom of Information Act 2000] requires them to be answered within a maximum of 20 working days.

Today, Friday 9 July, is precisely 16 weeks since I asked those questions.

That's 80 weekdays, or, allowing for four Bank Holidays during this period, 76 working days since I asked those questions.

Today, they have still not been answered.

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