Tuesday, 5 June 2007



Liverpool City Council have been told by the Information Commissioning Office that publishing the emails between Liverpool City Council employee Matt Finnegan and the Elected Head of Liverpool City Council, Mike Storey was an illegal act.
It also stated that publishing personal information about Matt Finnegan's Teenage daughter was also an illegal act.

Matt complained to the information commissioner last September 2006, when it became apparent to Matt, I would bet, that the Leader of the council Mike Storey was not going to help him, indeed he was in his own mess at the time.

Regular readers will already be aware of the scandal that caused the LIVERPOOLEVILCABAL blogspot back in June last year.

Despite having to resign his post as media chief and despite the allegations flying around at the time, despite all of the bullying tactics the evil cabal tried, Matt stood his ground and finally someone came through for him and his daughter, it may only be a small victory for Matt and his family, but it is a victory none the less.

see below for the full interview with Matt Finnegan by Tony Parrish



LIVERPOOL city council broke the law by publishing confidential emails between its former Leader and communications chief.
The Information Commissioner has found the city council guilty of breaking the ‘First Principle’ of the Data Protection Act, 1998 - that the publication of any personal information should be ‘fair and lawful.’
The Commissioner upholds an official complaint by Matt Finnegan, the city council’s former Assistant Executive Director (Media), who had accused the council of acting unlawfully in first publicising the confidential emails two years ago.
In the emails, the then Council Leader Mike Storey, instructed the council’s media chief to publicise his opposition to a £240,000 pension deal for the council’s chief executive Sir David Henshaw, who had announced his early retirement.
A report containing the emails was sent to all 90 city councillors in May 2005, after the Liverpool Daily Post reported that the chief executive was demanding Councillor Storey’s resignation.

The draft report, drawn up by Executive Director Phil Halsall - the council’s Section 151 Officer - also contained details of Mr Finnegan’s mobile phone calls and text messages, as well as the emails.
Mr Finnegan submitted his complaint to the Information Commissioner immediately after quitting his job last September, accusing the council of waging a vendetta against him for obeying the instructions of the council’s democratically-elected Leader.
Mr Finnegan’s teenage daughter, who was also identified in Mr Halsall’s report, also submitted a separate formal complaint.
The Information Commissioner has now upheld both complaints, ruling that the council acted illegally.
In his adjudication to Mr Finnegan, the Commissioner says: “It is clear that the decision was taken to distribute the full contents of the Draft Report somewhat prematurely, in response to ‘media pressure’, which we believe was unfair to you.
“It is therefore our view that Liverpool City Council has breached the First Principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 in this instance. Whilst it is acknowledged that this is perhaps an extraordinary case in terms of the nature of events which occurred, and the high profile of the individuals who were involved, the disclosure, having been circulated at such a premature time, was still unfair.”
The Commissioner warns that publication by the council of the report may also have compromised any further disciplinary proceedings it brought.
He adds: “Whilst it is unlikely that this specific situation would arise again in the future, we shall be pointing out to the Council that they do have a general duty to ensure that the processing of all personal data complies with the provisions contained within the Data Protection Act 1998.
“In light of this, the Council may wish to review the actions which were taken in this case and consider whether it may be appropriate to implement further measures in order to prevent a similar event from occurring again in the future.
“The Commissioner would hope that once this contravention of the Act has been brought to the attention of the Council, steps will be taken to rectify the situation.”
Mr Finnegan is now calling for the council to take legal action against Sir David Henshaw, currently chair of the North West Strategic Health Authority, for contravening the Data Protection Act and to suspend Mr Halsall, who is still employed by the council, pending a full investigation into his actions.
Mr Finnegan said: “These two men broke the law. There is no argument about that. At the time, Mr Henshaw even issued an astonishing public statement welcoming the illegal report and praising his own integrity! The council should now show that it is cleaning up its act by taking appropriate action against both men and any others who were party to this decision. Proven law-breakers such as these should not be in charge of any public service for a moment longer.”
Mr Finnegan added: “My complaint to the Information Commissioner was the first of 38 grievances which I had first submitted to the council, for breaching their own internal rules and procedures. The current chief executive, Colin Hilton dismissed them out of hand.
“I am pleased however, that the Information Commissioner takes a very different view from Mr Hilton and has not allowed such illegal actions by very senior employees to be covered up.
“I am also grateful to the Daily Post for making public the astonishing events in Liverpool at the time. In my view, there was an attempted coup by certain officers against the democratically elected Leader, using emails which had been illegally obtained.
“This is a small, if belated, victory for democracy and is a vindication of my actions in obeying the Leader of the Council. I never broke the law – Mr Henshaw and Mr Halsall did. The council will never again be able to get away with treating employees like me with such flagrant contempt for both the law and their own internal rules and procedures.
“If the council had any decency it would now issue an abject public apology to both me and my daughter for acting illegally. But we won’t be holding our breath.
“It has been a sorry and shameful little episode linked directly to the huge pension claim of Mr Henshaw. That began a train of events which have caused significant harm to the public image of the city of Liverpool and have damaged people’s confidence in public servants and public service. I hope the council now deeply regrets breaking the law of the land.”

No comments:




Council leader Warren Bradley said that some individual councillors’ behaviour was “appalling” and not fitting of a democratic society.




Roger: This is not a good report for us is it Warren?
Fireman:Well Roger we’ve got to put it into perspective really haven’t we and remember where Liverpool was and that’s not thinking back 10 years. Liverpool has come an awful long way. The people of Liverpool were asking for lower Council Tax and the Liberal Democrats have delivered that and they also wanted better services and you look at the services that are now delivered by Liverpool City Council. If we look at the most vulnerable either elderly or the Children’s Services the social care we are now delivering at a level that Liverpool has never delivered before. We also look at the bread and butter your schools, your sports centres, your libraries, One Stop Shops in communities, our parks, we’ve got 13 green flag parks. It’s like a new home to me when you get an old dilapidated derelict building you’ve got to bring it up to a standard and I think Liverpool City Council under the Liberal Democrats have certainly done that and I am certain if we did a survey of people in the City do you want Liverpool City Council to sit on £20m worth of reserves or do you want the City Council delivering front line services that affect the most vulnerable and people’s lives in the City. I think that they would vote with their feet and say that we support the policies of Liverpool City Council. We’ve got to look at the financial regulations put in by Government and if you want my opinion about this Roger it is purely political.
Roger: Well come on, you know the Audit Commission is not a political body
Fireman: Well with respect Roger and I would beg to differ on that
Roger: Well how can it be a political, it’s an independent organisation?
Fireman: We can say everything is independent to a certain extent but you know you look at what we’ve got at the moment in Liverpool and we’re delivering top quality services.
Roger: But the problem with this is that you’ve got an overall score rating of 2 which was adequate performance into 05, overall score in 06 was 2 which is adequate performance.
This year it is down to 1 below minimum requirements inadequate performance.
Fireman: Based around financial regulations…
Roger: Yes I’m talking about the financial…..
Fireman: Laid down by government. I mean that’s what you’ve got to remember. Don’t try and muddy the waters and say oh this is about Liverpool City Council and their overall performance. It’s not. You look at the issue that we’ve done about achievements. Liverpool scoring 3-4 on achievement at the moment through the Audit Commission.
Roger: I didn’t know that.
(EDs: Pitiful, just pitiful.)
Fireman: And we do seem to always go to the negatives when we’re looking for something like this.
Roger: The District Auditor was pretty negative about you wasn’t he and…
Fireman: No, I have got to say Roger I would love to have £50m in reserves. I would also love not to have to put additions of £7m into adult social care and £2-3m into children’s social care. The facts are we have got to do that because of the pressures that are on Liverpool at the moment.
Roger: So are other Councils….
Fireman: I’m not willing as Leader of this Council to take away care to the most vulnerable to allow it to sit in reserve. I am not willing to do that and I will go to the stake on that the people of the City. Liverpool now is only one of a handful of Councils up and down the country that is providing moderate care to the most vulnerable people in the City. Now to give people an idea of what moderate care is that is home care. These people who’ve got no family to support them and require a visit in the morning or a visit in the evening to make sure they’re ok to help them to take the pills, to make sure that they’ve got the food. Most Councils up and down this country have removed that care. Liverpool City Council is still allowing our most vulnerable people our sort of care. Now is that wrong, is that wrong?
Roger: Now no one would argue that’s wrong but everyone. But many people are affected by housing. Housing is really poor isn’t it. I mean you are so poor you’ve had to hand it over to a different group to run it.
Fireman: Well with respect Roger, with respect, you’ve got to know what the Housing Corporation have done and in partnership with the Government again it’s easy to say it’s the Council, in partnership with the Government we’ve tackled head on through the Pathfinder areas of the inner core of the City some of the housing inefficiencies of the City. That hasn’t happened over the last five years that’s happened over 30 or 40 years. The problems in Norris Green in housing were prevalent 30 or 40 years ago and weren’t tackled. As an Authority we’ve challenged what wasn’t tackled and we’ve challenged it head on and I opened a couple of weeks ago with Flo Clucas and Marilyn Fielding with Cobalt Housing the first phase of Norris Green. We’ve transformed that area and its got houses for sale and social housing in Norris Green that people are seeking to live in now. We’ve got in a core Edge Hill, Kensington, Kirkdale the same issues that have been there for 30 or 40 years that we’re tackling now hand in hand with the Government. I’m not taking the credit for it and the Government isn’t. We’ve got a schools’ programme that is second to none. Liverpool’s young people are now achieving at the national average. I want it higher than national average to give new opportunity but again I’ll say I’m not going to suit accountants’ financial regulations in London and leave £millions sitting in reserve while we have still got the challenges Liverpool has got and I think people you know.
Roger: Do you think it was a mistake to keep Council Tax down or freeze it over the past few years?
Fireman: Well isn’t it ironic Roger how last week John Healey said how Liverpool is charging £101 a head...
Roger: Because its inefficiencies….
Fireman: Well we have taken £150m worth of inefficiencies out of our budget over the last 10 years. We’ve kept Council tax down which is exactly what Government policy is and is exactly what John Healey is saying. Councillor Joe Anderson is saying something completely different to the people of Liverpool that he will put taxes up to build reserves to put in reserve well again this administration this Lib Dem administration is not going to tax for the sake of taxing to leave money sitting in reserve. We will build up the reserves over a period of years and then we will be able to tackle some of the other issues that we’ve got to do. We recognise the health inequalities. To improve health inequalities we’ve got to have a real stable economy offering real opportunity and raising the aspirations in them poorer communities. You cannot do that leaving millions and millions of pounds laying in reserves and this administration will continue the robust financial management that we’ve done. We’ll carry on delivering…
Roger: If it was that robust we wouldn’t have this problem of £20m overdrawn on Capital of Culture.
Fireman: Roger, lets put things into hindsight. We are still delivering front line services. We are still…
Roger: It’s about £20m overall that we’re short this year – now that’s not robust management
Fireman: But Roger we are going through a budget setting process. Every Local Authority up and down the country is in the same process as us. I remember reading about Wirral being £50m short. Other Local Authorities. I meet the core city leaders who are £40-£50m short exactly the same as Liverpool . And let’s not forget I haven’t come on here to knock the Government I’ve come on here to say that I believe we’ve got a robust financial programme in place that is going to deal with the shortfall. We’ve delivered year on year but I’ll say again I am not going to allow millions and millions of pounds to lay in reserve. Cut front line services to the most vulnerable and then say that’s acceptable. Nor as Leader of this Council am I going to allow Council Tax to go through the roof again which will drive the inability to bring further investment into this City. While the Lib Dems have been in control we’ve brought Council Tax down, we’ve brought renewed confidence and we’ve brought real investment that will bring opportunities to the most vulnerable and I think that is the most important and I think the people of this City will stand full square with us on that. I’m proud of what we’ve delivered in this City over the last 10 years and Capital of Culture is part of that."