Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wells report on NHSU - DoH withdraws it's appeal

I traveled to London today for the hearing by the Information Tribunal, under the Freedom of Information Act, into the appeal by the Department of Health against the Decision Notice by the Information Commissioner which ruled that they should disclose the report by Sir William Wells into the NHS University.

The DoH had withdrawn their appeal before the hearing (unfortunately no one had told me - otherwise I wouldn't have had to take the train).

I have not yet had an official confirmation of this, or been given any reasons, although I have been verbally promised a letter imminently.

In the absence of anything official I can only speculate that the appeal was withdrawn because they realised they wouldn't win!

I'm also still trying to find out the timescale the department now has to disclose the report. The ICs ruling on 27th Nov 2006 gave them 35 calender days & the department appealed on 20th Dec (23 days). I don't yet know the date on which they withdrew the appeal, but I'm assuming the clock starts ticking again at that point. (I'm not aware of any other case where this has happened & I can't find anything in "the rules" which clarify this)

My cynical mind means I am speculating that the disclosure may come over a bank holiday weekend, when it may receive less scrutiny than if it was published on a normal working day. Unless, of course, there are some other tactics to avoid or delay disclosure which I haven't yet thought of.

It is now two and half years since I first wrote to my MP about this & received a reply from John Hutton (then Minister of State at the DoH) stating that the department intended to publish the results "shortly". The long and convoluted process which has taken place since to obstruct access, makes me more and more convinced that the report must contain something which someone in authority doesn't want published.

I've already been offered a celebratory drink following today's experience - but I shall refrain from drinking it until The Wells Report is finally published.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Information Tribunal Hearing

I have just heard that the hearing of the Information Tribunal into my request for the report by Sir William Wells into the NHS University to be disclosed by the Department of Health, will be held on Weds 4th April at Procession House, 110 Newbridge Street, London EC4V 6JL.

Information Tribunal Ref: EA/2006/0094
Information Commissioner Ref: FS50070878
Decision Notice

Back story available on this blog - start at: NHSu report & Information Tribunal

If anyone has advice or guidance about whether I should be "joined to the appeal" or about the conduct of the hearing I would be grateful.

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