This article provides more details of the games being played in this Information War. It seems that the concealment of the details of the CL Financial bailout is of high importance.
First item is this acknowledgment from the PS in the Ministry of Finance which would be funny, if this entire matter were not so very serious –
The Senior Legal Officer for the Ministry responded in detail on 29th May 2018 to propose that I agree an extension of the 30-day time-limit specified at S15 of the FoIA. But that was a misbegotten attempt to conflate the simple approval or refusal of my request (which the Ministry must give in the 30-day time-limit) with the time needed to compile the requested details.
After a standard recital which listed the requested details in slightly different order, the Ministry put its proposal –
“…As is evident from the foregoing, the said requests are extensive and seek a large volume of information and documentation, some of which date back to the year 2008 and in respect of which the Ministry is required to take legal and other advice.
In the premises, the Ministry is unable to provide its response on or before 4th June 2018, within the 30-day timeframe contemplated by section 15 of the FOIA. We therefore require an extension of time to consider and take advice on disclosure of the requested information and undertake to communicate with you further on or before 31 July 2018.
We trust that this reasonable request will be met with your favourable consideration and ask that you sign and return a copy of this letter to the undersigned by hand or by fax (868) 627 6108 confirming your agreement to same.
Senior Legal Officer
I, Afra Raymond, hereby agree to grant the Ministry of Finance an extension of time to provide its response to the captioned Freedom of information request on or before 31 July 2018…”
This is my clarification of the issues
From – Afra Raymond
To – Vishnu Dhanpaul
Date – Mon, Jun 4, 2018 at 11:45 PM
Re – Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Act (The Act) for further details of costs of the CL Financial bailout
Dear PS Dhanpaul,
Your letter of 29th May 2018 was received at my office earlier today.
It would indeed be a formidable task to provide the requested details within the 30-day time-limit set by S15 of the FoIA and in that light there seems to be a reasonable case for an extension of that timetable. That said, your proposal that I agree to an extension of time until 31st July 2018 for your ‘response or undertaking to communicate with me further‘ is unacceptable.
The Ministry of Finance litigated this matter extensively, since May 2012 and with the benefit of top-level legal advice, before losing the High Court case in July 2015 and conceding the Appeal Court case such that we entered a Consent Order on 24th January 2018. No doubt one could obtain paid advice to distinguish these matters from each other, nonetheless, there can be little reasonable doubt that the details now being sought from the same Public Authority are essentially of the same nature as in the first case. One therefore has to wonder what is the legal and other advice which the Ministry is now required to take.
These are issues of fundamental importance since your proposal could place us in the situation of having agreed an extension of time, only to then be refused the requested information based on the legal and other advice. Such an agreement would take us both outside the FoIA and in fact place the Ministry in breach of its S15 obligations. Of course I will not agree to abrogate my rights under the Act. The Ministry is required to reply – within 30 days in accordance with S15 and in the form prescribed in S23 – to confirm whether it is approving or refusing my request for information. Your letter confirmed receipt of my requests on 4th May 2018, therefore the Ministry’s S23 reply needs to be submitted without any further delay, if it is to remain compliant with the Act.
That indicative reply, which is required by law, ought not to be conflated with the practical issue of the time required to provide the requested information.
Therefore, to be entirely clear, if what you are seeking is my agreement to have more time to take more advice to decide on my requests, I am refusing that request. In the alternative, if you need more time to provide the requested details, I do not agree to your proposal for a shift in the overall deadline to 31st July 2018.
There are requested details which do not require a further two months to research or examine. The first example I am citing is the third item – i.e. details of the legal fees paid to the various attorneys in the course of this litigation. Even if the Ministry’s files were misplaced, there is no practical reason why your office could not readily obtain those details of fees from the various attorneys retained by the Ministry in the five and a half years this matter has taken in the Courts.
In fact, I am counter-proposing that the Ministry show its willingness to comply with my request, by providing that information on legal fees by Friday 15th June 2018 and further, that we agree a businesslike and professional approach to this important matter so that these requested details can be obtained in the public interest, without any further delay or nugatory argument.
Please confirm receipt.
Next week, I will provide the further exchanges with the Ministry. These are being published in the public interest.