In response to requests for mundane information such as the terms of reference of the Oxburgh Inquiry, Oxburgh pretty much laid down a gauntlet for an FOI inquiry, asserting that no relevant documents existed.
I am afraid that I am not able to be very helpful as none of the documents about which you inquire exists…
The only written record, apart from any notes that individuals may have kept privately but of which I am unaware, is our final report that was agreed unanimously. Similarly the terms of reference were given to me verbally and are encapsulated in the introductory paragraphs of our report.”
Needless to say, I submitted an FOI request to the House of Lords, being informed today that they had no documents.
Dear Mr McIntyre
Thank you for your request to the House of Lords administration on 3 June 2010. You asked for information under the Environmental Information Regulations on the following:
“1. Any documents containing information on (a) the terms of reference of the Oxburgh inquiry at the University of East Anglia; (b) the selection of the eleven papers; (c) the solicitation and appointment of panelists. Such documents may include emails to or from Lord Oxburgh and the (a) University of East Anglia and/or its officers and employees; (b) the Royal Society and/or its employees; (c) members of the Oxburgh panel, including Kerry Emanuel, David Hand, Huw Davies, Herbert Huppert, Lisa Graumlich and/or Michael Kelly.
2. Any documents containing information on interviews of CRU employees by the Oxburgh panel, including any emails, notes, memoranda or transcripts, including, without limitation, any emails to or from Lord Oxburgh and the parties referred to request (1) above.”
The House of Lords administration does not hold this information.
You have made your request to the House of Lords administration. The House is cited as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, and in the Environmental Information Regulations. However, the provisions of the Act and the Regulations only apply to recorded information held by the House of Lords administration. For the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, members are regarded as separate entities from the “House of Lords”. Accordingly members of the House of Lords are not themselves public authorities under the Act or Regulations. The provisions of the Act and Regulations will therefore not apply to information held only by an individual member e.g. their private correspondence or to correspondence they may have received.
I trust that the above explains why the administration does not hold the information you have requested.
House of Lords
The University of East Anglia previously turned down Andrew Montford’s FOI request from the University to Oxburgh – Montford having no reason to suspect that Oxburgh was using House of Lords letterhead with a UEA email address.
“Independent” inquiries – British-style.
PS- to clarify the House of Lords answer, they’re also saying that correspondence by individual members is not subject to FOI – since the members (as distinct from the House of Lords as an institution) are not “public authorities” subject to FOI. However, the University of East Anglia is a “public authority” subject to FOI and their excuses in their stonewalling of Andrew Montford are not necessarily going to stand up on appeal.