Council in court appeal against disclosure of staff information
9:10am Monday 21st November 2011 in News
BOLTON Council will today appeal against a government ruling to reveal the outside business dealings of senior Town Hall staff.
Alan Eastwood, the council’s director of legal services will appear at a First Tier Tribunal in London to dispute the Information Commissioner’s decision.
It is understood the legal challenge has so far cost the council about £2,000.
If the appeal is thrown out, the council would have to release details of officers’ outside business interests.
The staff involved range from senior directors to low-paid workers.
The case comes after transparency campaigner John Greenwood asked for details held on the council’s register of interests in a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
When the council refused, Mr Greenwood, from Breightmet, reported the council to the Government’s Information Commissioner, who ruled there was a case for disclosing the information in the public interest because the officers are responsible for decisions that affect the community and involve spending public money.
A council spokesman said: “The information held on the officers’ register falls under the Data Protection Act, a fact that has not been questioned by the Information Commissioner.
“When officers complete the register, it is on the understanding it will only be released to the monitoring officer and other authorised officers, not to the public at large.
“Therefore, to release to the public would be unfair processing of such data.
Officers have been asked whether they are prepared to release the data, some have agreed, while others have not.
As an employer, we feel that to release such sensitive data against an employee’s wishes would be wholly wrong.”
The council said it would abide by the final decision of the tribunal.