I am a little annoyed as it’s a lovely day in Wapping and I want to go and photograph the Egyptian Geese. Or, as Cllr. Alibor Choudhury would call it, do some ‘perving’.
But no perving for me today, I am stuck here writing. Because sometimes you need to tell people what is going on right away. So off we go. Because I think someone might have been naughty and shredded some incriminating documents.
Here we go (again)
Long long ago and far, far away I submitted a Data Protection Act disclosure request to Tower Hamlets Council in an attempt to discover the identity of the three mysterious ‘canvassers’ who came knocking on my door.
This event has turned into a long running saga I fondly call ‘Greenbankgate’.
The Freedom of Information (FOI) requests I had submitted got me nowhere so why not try the Data Protection route? And this morning I got a reply.
Really bad timing
It’s a corker of a reply. More than that it is a very badly timed corker.
Because there just happens to be a BBC Panorama investigation into Mayor Luftur Rahman airing this Monday BBC1, 8.30. Have I mentioned this at all?
I will not mention this story in the Evening Standard revealing that the MPS have started looking into the Greenbankgate allegations.
Oops! I have! How careless. Not as careless as some it seems.
The questions I asked
Here is the key part of my Data Protection disclosure request. Bushra Hussain and Sadia Uddin are the names on the letters the Mayor kindly sent me:
“I would ask that both Bushra Hussain and Sadia Uddin be identified and asked by what means were my enquiry details of 7th November 2013 acquired by them.
I also require full disclosure under the Data Protection Act with regard to these specific points:
- The identity of the person or persons who gave Bushra Hussain, Sadia Uddin or their colleagues details of my enquiry.
- On behalf of what organisation were these details collected.
- The purpose of the collection of my details.
- Disclosure of any and all details gathered by the women who visited me, including copies of their original handwritten notes, and any and all details entered into any computer system.
- Details, including ownership and management, of the computer system that my details and those relating to my enquiry were entered into.
- Do my details remain on any computer system and if so for what reason.
- A full audit log of all operations undertaken on my details since collection, including dissemination in any form to any other persons or organisations.”
And here is the full document
Being stupid I thought this should cover it.
The replies I got
Here is what I got back this morning
Data Protection disclosure response (points I raised are Q, responses are A in blue):
Q: The identity of the person or persons who gave Bushra Hussain, Sadia Uddin or their colleagues details of my enquiry
A: The Mayor.
Q: On behalf of what organisation were these details collected.
A: The Mayor.
Q: The purpose of the collection of my details.
A: Your details were given to the Council for the purpose of addressing the issues raised and communicating with you how the issues have been addressed.
Q: Disclosure of any and all details gathered by the women who visited me, including copies of their original handwritten notes, and any and all details entered into any computer system.
A: Original handwritten notes given to the Council have been shredded. Please see attached details entered on the Council’s computer system.
Q: Details, including ownership, management and location, of any and all computer system(s) that my details and those relating to my enquiry were entered into.
A: Your details as attached are held on the Council’s computer system which is owned and managed by the Council and located in Council premises.
Q: Do my details remain on any computer system(s) and if so for what reason.
A: Your details will remain on the Council’s computer system for Council records
Q: A full audit log of all operations undertaken on my details since collection, including dissemination in any form to any other persons or organisations.
A: Your details have been disseminated to the Lighting and Highways Maintenance departments in the Council as set out in the attached.
Here is the response document:
Say what now?
So after all this time I (and you dear reader) are being told that Mayor Lutfur Rahman gave details of the enquiry I made to three women posing as Tower Hamlets Homes staff to his own staff? He personally handed them over?
So who gave the documents to Mayor Lutfur? That is the question I still want an answer to.
We do now know that the enquiries were collected on behalf of Mayor Lutfur’s organisation. I had worked that out as I subsequently had more letters from the Mayor than I get Christmas cards. Nothing new here.
Secret organisation in Tower Hamlets?
On behalf of which of Mayor Lutfur’s organisations were these enquiries collected? The Council? Tower Hamlets First? Some other organisation that the Mayor keeps secret perhaps?
How many organisations does a Mayor need anyway?
The main reason I made the Data Protection request was to get access to the original handwritten notes that the ‘canvasser’ made at the time. Or even a photocopy. Or a scan.
But the response states quite clearly that: ‘Original handwritten notes given to the Council have been shredded. Please see attached details entered on the Council’s computer system.’
Who shredded these documents? When did they shred them? On whose authority? Have all the original notes been collected by this mysterious organisation? Or just mine?
The Mayor must know as whoever had access to the original handwritten notes or a member of the organisation they worked for provided Mayor Lutfur with the information from them. The disclosure statements says so. Or I am wrong to draw that conclusion?
I have not uploaded the copies of the computer log here as there is little of value in them. Apart from one key thing. The absence of data. Which can sometimes be damning.
The computer logs start on the 20th of November 2013. This is the date that the enquiries were raised in Tower Hamlets Council.
I had my visit from the mysterious ‘canvassers’ on 7th of November 2013.
So where were the original handwritten notes between the 7th and 20th of November?
I don’t know but I do know that wherever they were someone from this mysterious place gave the Mayor of Tower Hamlets or one of his staff members belonging to <insert any organisation you fancy here> the information from the notes.
What we still need to know
- I have been told that the original handwritten notes made by the three mysterious ‘canvassers’ on 7th November have been destroyed
- The information the notes contained was given to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman.
- That information was then given by the Mayor to his staff on or around 20th November
- It is not known to what organisation the ‘staff’ belong to.
- It is not known where the handwritten notes were between 7th November and 20th November or what organisation collected and stored them.
- Whatever the identity of this organisation we do not know how it is connected to Mayor Lutfur
The covering letter in my response says that if I am not satisfied with the Council’s response I can appeal to the Information Commissioner.
Well I am not satisfied so I will.
And before I started to write this blog post I also forwarded the Data Protection response to the Metropolitan Police.
Now I am off for some perving.
Unless I bump into one of the Tower Hamlets First people scuttling around Wapping.
In which case I might just ask them if they know how to operate a paper shredder.