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FoIAct Questions to PM: Madeleine Foundation not satisifed with his staff's answers

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FoIAct Questions to PM: Madeleine Foundation not satisifed with his staff's answers

Post by Tony Bennett on 22.07.11 19:55

On 18 May, six days after Dr Kate McCann's book 'madeleine' was published and also six days after Prime Minister David Cameron had agreed with the now ex-Head of the Metropolitan Police Force, Sir Paul Stephenson, to spend £3.5 million of taxpayer's money on a Review of the Madeleine McCann case, apparently on her parents' terms, we wrote to the Prime Minister asking for there to be a judge-led public enquiry, with the power to summon witnesses, instead of a Review.

We also asked three Freedom of Information Act questions of the Prime Minister's FoI Department.

Last week we put up this notice on our website (www.madeleinefoundatin.org.uk):

On July 5th 2011, The Madeleine Foundation received a reply from the PrimeMinister's Freedom of Information section. Amazingly, they have once again, failed to answer the questions put to them.

Read the response to our letter of 18 May 2011 from the Prime Minister's FOI team - click here.


Because we were not happy with the replies, we have today asked for a review. Here is our letter:

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


The Madeleine Foundation

Asking the questions about what really happened to Madeleine McCann

66 Chippingfield Tel: 01279 635789
HARLOW
Essex,
CM17 0DJ
e-mail: ajsbennett@btinternet.com
website: www.madeleinefoundation.org.uk

Friday 22 July 2011

Mr Nicholas S Howard
Freedom of Information Section
Prime Minister’s Office
10 Downing Street
LONDON
SW1A 2AA

And to:

Mr Roger Smethurst
Head of Knowledge and Information Management Unit[
Admiralty Arch
North Entrance
The Mall
LONDON
SW1A 2WH

And by e-mail today to: foiteam@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Mr Howard and Mr Smethurst,

re: Request for Review of your answers to my Freedom of Information Act questions re Madeleine McCann, sent on 18 May 2011

Thank you for your letter of 5 July, containing your answers.

My questions were:

1. Please specify on what dates you or your staff, in connection with the Madeleine McCann case, have either met, or had e-mail or telephone communication with all the following:

a) Dr Gerald McCann
b) Dr Kate McCann
c) Clarence Mitchell
d) any other adviser to the McCanns
e) Sir Paul Stephenson
f) any other officers of the Metropolitan Police
g) any members of the family of Rupert Murdoch
h) any staff of the Sun
i) any staff of the News of the World.

2. On what date did you agree with the Home Secretary and Sir Paul Stephenson that the Met Police (Scotland Yard) should carry out a review of the case costing £3.5 million?

3. On what date did you agree with the Editor of the Sun that they would simultaneously publish your letter in reply to the letter from Dr Gerald McCann?

Question 1

You referred to one letter received from ‘Mr and Mrs McCann’.

Your letter said, and which we accept, that “The Freedom of Information Act provides the requestor with an access right to recorded information. It does not extend to request for views, comments or questions about a particular matter…A public authority does not have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information…”

My letter nowhere asks you to ‘create new information’. It asks factual questions about matters which we are sure have been recorded.

The letter asks for details of:

· Meetings, which are invariably recorded

· E-mails, for which there is a record, and

· Telephone calls. Notes are frequently made of telephone calls.

Thus records will exist in relation to the information we seek.

My letter asks for the dates only (we do not ask for any details other than dates) of these communications received or made by:

· The Prime Minster, and

· Any of ‘his staff’.

We believe that if and when the Prime Minister or any of his staff have had meetings, or sent or received e-mails from, or had telephone calls with any of the persons listed from (a) to (i) in Question 1, a note would usually be made of the date and, in the case of meetings and significant telephone calls, the subject matter.

We know that the Prime Minister met with the McCanns before he became Prime Minister. Please supply the date of that meeting.

In the light of the above, I renew my request for details of

· the dates of
· meetings, e-mails and telephone calls
· between any of the persons listed from (a) to (i)
· with the Prime Minister
· or with any of his staff
· in connection with the Madeleine McCann case.

So far as the contents of the letter from the McCanns is concerned, have the McCanns been asked if they will consent to the release of this letter?

In any event, please, as originally requested, supply the date of the letter they sent. Was this the only letter they sent to the Prime Minister. I do not know where to find a copy of the Prime Minister’s reply. As you have not supplied a copy of the letter and say it is ‘in the public domain [and] information accessible by other means’, please be kind enough to specify where I can see a copy of it.

Question 2

You quoted the Home Office statement of 12 May in which the following words appear: “The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have today agreed…”

That Home Office statement may be incorrect. Please state if there is a record of the Prime Minister agreeing with the Home Secretary before 12 May that Sir Paul Stephenson and the Metropolitan Police would carry out a Review. If it is still contended that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary only agreed to Sir Paul Stephenson’s Review during the course of 12 May, please provide information as to:

(1) at what time during the day that agreement was reached, and

(2) whether that agreement was reached at a meeting, during a telephone call, or otherwise.

Question 3

You have said that you ‘hold no information’ about the Prime Minister’s agreement with the Editor of the Sun that they would publish the Prime Minister’s letter in its editions of 12 May.

Clearly the Prime Minister wrote a letter, whether drafted by himself and approved by him, or written by him. Clearly the Prime Minister or his staff contacted the Sun about the publication of this letter. There may be telephone calls or e-mails or other communications, many of which will have been recorded. The information sought is:

On what date did the Prime Minister agree with the Editor of the Sun that they would publish the Prime Minister’s letter in the Sun? WE suggest there must be a record of a physical or telephone conversation or an exchange of emails or a fax during which the Editor of the Sun agreed to publish the letter. All we seek by way of information is the date of that agreement.

The Prime Minister has on numerous occasions stated that he is wholly committeed to running a transparent government. I look forward to hearing from you with full and helpful answers to our questions as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Bennett
Secretary
The Madeleine Foundation

Tony Bennett
Researcher/Moderator

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