Uncovering More of the Mysteries of Common Purpose

As well as digging deeper into Rother’s response regarding Common Purpose, I also had to follow up on Belfast City Council’s. Unlike Rother, they revealed almost £100,000 of expenditure to Common Purpose and provided three large PDFs of invoices.

However, they redacted these invoices by blanking out the names of the Council staff and Councillors who attended training, on the grounds that this would be a breach of Data Protection. I always find such an approach to be deeply suspicious. There have been several rulings by the Information Commissioner that names of government officials are not personal data under the Data Protection Act where they are in relation to them carrying out their duties, and I have successfully appealed such redactions before.

So I requested that Belfast City Council release the full unredacted versions.

I was more than a little surprised when they did so within 24 hours!

Well, not entirely. They agreed to un-redact the personal names of Councillors, and released new copies of the invoices accordingly. They also provided new copies of the invoices relating to Council Staff, this time revealing the officer’s job title – but still blacking out the name. They are going to consider separately whether those should be released.

I’m fairly confident that they will be – particularly as it is already public knowledge which individuals held particular posts at a given time – but it’s nice to see such a quick turnaround on the Councillors’ names.

Update: I see that they’ve also responded to the initial requestor with revised PDFs too. Nice!

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