Openness And Transparency (The Continuing Tale Of AB1

On West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion’s official website there is an item entitled A Reformed West Mercia.

The second sentence reads

I will be open and transparent in how decisions are made and how tax payer’s money is spent.

So I was confident that the full story behind the sale of Registration Mark AB1 would be forthcoming from the office of the PCC. So, armed with my trusty quill I made the following Freedom of Information request to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia Police, confident that ‘openness and transparency’ would rule the day and that the information would be forthcoming;

In relation to the sale of Vehicle Registration Mark AB1 could you please supply me with the following:-

Copies of Minutes of any Meeting where the sale of AB1 was proposed or discussed (redacted if appropriate) including the very first proposal to sell it. I have yet to locate in the Disclosure Log any document containing the original proposal to sell it and ensuing discussion. Decision Notice 8 only records the decision to accept the offer of £160,000, specifically NOT the Decision to sell the VRM.

Copies of any documents including, but not limited to, any correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRM, any letters or emails between OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchaser

Copies of any other documents or emails, not specifically requested previously, that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and have not been previously included in a Disclosure Log

Some 4-5 weeks later it became apparent that my request had ‘got lost’ despite having received an email acknowledgement that it had been received. The Chief Executive invited me to resubmit it, which I duly did. I have now received the PCC’s response.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin;

a) Copies of Minutes of any Meeting where the sale of AB1 was proposed or discussed (redacted if appropriate) including the very first proposal to sell it. I have yet to locate in the Disclosure Log any document containing the original proposal to sell it and ensuing discussion. Decision Notice 8 only records the decision to accept the offer of £160,000, specifically NOT the Decision to sell the VRM.

The answer to this was:-

There are no copies of minutes or any other documents regarding the first proposal to sell AB1. Decision Notice 8 implicitly incorporates the recommendation to sell with the recommendation to accept the offer

b) Copies of any documents including, but not limited to, any correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRM, any letters or emails between OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchaser

The answer to this was:-

The documents and correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRN and copies of emails between the OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchase are exempt from disclosure under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act – Commercial Interests.

And finally

c) Copies of any other documents or emails, not specifically requested previously, that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and have not been previously included in a Disclosure Log

The response to this was

The copies of any other documents not specifically requested previously that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and not previously included in the Disclosure Log are all exempt from disclosure under either Section 43(2) – Commercial Interests, Section 42(1) – Legal Professional privilege, Section 33(2) – Audit Functions or Section 22(1) – Information held with a view to its publication at a future date, which has all since been published.

In their response to part a) of my request I was referred to Decision Notice 8, which apparently answers a lot of my request.

You can find Decision Notice 8 here

The Executive Summary is exactly that, a very brief summary

There is then a proposal that the mark be sold for a figure of £160k

This proposal is then approved by the PCC, John Campion and signed off. If you refer back to my earlier post on the sale of AB1 you will see that there are allegations that offers in excess of £160k were made but ‘ignored’. The refusal of the PCC to disclose the relevant information makes it difficult, if not impossible, to establish the truth. However, at the bottom of the Decision Notice is the following section;

Surely this section states that any information that cannot be made available on request is recorded in a separate Part 2 report. There is no Part 2 report. Are we to believe that the decision to sell the Registration Mark was arrived at without a single minuted meeting or exchange of emails having taken place? It’s a good job we can rely on transparency.

Surely the absence of a Part 2 report indicates that there is no information that cannot be made available on request.

I feel a request for a Review coming. Put the Information Commissioner on standby.

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