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Law firm to investigate secret council tactics in logging saga UK News

Mass protest and march in Sheffield against City Council and Amey who are chopping down trees in the city

Law firm Bevan Brittan has been tasked by the board to investigate whether the attempt to use legal privilege to prevent emails from entering the public domain via Freedom of Information requests has been correctly applied. The council – which has previously admitted that some emails are “improperly marked” in this way – said the law firm will provide “best practice” recommendations to fuel its complaints process. It follows a complaint by street tree activist and FoI specialist Marcus Combie to the board regarding his use of legal privilege in emails and FoI. Operation Quito – a major police operation supporting logging operations on council streets in early 2018 in light of growing protests against the policy – were handed over to Mr Combie in late 2019. Several have received the subject line ‘Covered by legal lien and not subject to FoI’ and related to board involvement in a shared media strategy wit h South Yorkshire Police and the wish not to publicize for fear of “politicizing” the functioning of the force. strongly involved ”. Among those copied to some of the email channels were then council chief Julie Dore and councilor Bryan Lodge, who at the time was a cabinet member for the environment and the street scene. In March 2020, the council’s director of resources, Eugene Walker, said the council has now accepted that some emails had been “marked incorrectly.” After asking for more information on the attempt to use the exemption via FoI from March 2020, Mr Combie filed formal complaints in March 2021. Earlier this month, the board informed him that Bevan Brittan tasked with investigating how the board applied legal privilege to emails. The work is supervised by a specialist in information law who will be able to speak with agents of the council. The firm’s findings will inform the board’s response to Mr. Combie’s complaint. She was told that the standards complaint would not apply to Julie Dore as she is no longer a consultant. A spokesperson for Sheffield City Council said: “In March 2021, the council received a complaint from a member of the public regarding the use of legal privilege in emails and FoI. This matter has already been reviewed and comments have been made to the Information Commissioner’s office, which at the time was satisfied with the council’s response. However, in accordance with the Board’s complaints procedure, when matters concern elected members, this is further investigated and constitutes standard procedure. “A law firm has been engaged to review the factual background, which will include reviewing random FoI requests to provide their perspective and make recommendations on best practices. These findings will then be used to inform the process. complaint. ”They said it was“ too early ”to say they will be part of an investigation scheduled to begin this year.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-02 09:16:45

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