Response to MoJ following refusal of FOI request
Margaret Haig Interpretation Project
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
Your Reference: 78803
ICO Reference: FS50467125
10th February 2013
Dear Ms Haig,
Further to your letter dated 6th February 2013, I request that you review your decision for the following reasons;
Refusal on grounds of commercial sensitivity. I asked for the numbers of individuals placed on the LTI register – categorised by the tier at which they had been assessed – for each month from August 2011 to May 2012. Capita has made this information available to the Parliamentary Justice Select Committee (JSC) for the period February 2012 to August 2012, and for October 2012. Having watched the proceedings of both the JSC and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings into the Ministry of Justices Language Services Contract, and read through the subsequent reports and written evidence, I did not find any instance of either Capita PLC or the Ministry objecting to supplying this information. Neither party raised commercial sensitivity as an issue, and I am therefore surprised that you persist in proffering this as an excuse.I am left with the conclusion that the withholding of this information is intended to deny critics of the contract the means with which to challenge misleading information presented by both the contractor and the MoJ. For example, on 9th July 2012 Lord McNally made a statement in Parliament to the effect that ‘..At the moment there are about 1500 interpreters under contract..’ whereas the actual figures were 985 in June 2012, and 994 in July.
Your assertion regarding the costs of gathering the data requested is, quite frankly, ludicrous. No doubt there are individual files for each person, but I am sure that a few points of essential data have been extracted from these files and placed into a master list which may just have a single row of data for each person. Please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming that such a list does not exist. The essential data would consist of the following as a minimum; Name; Register No; Language(s); Date placed on Register; Date removed from Register; Tier; Number of assignments fulfilled. I am certain that this list is capable of being imported into Excel, and as someone who proficient in using Excel I know that with only 1300 rows of data, the sort and filter functions may be used to extract the requested data within 1 hour, at most.
Rest assured that I will forward your reply to both the JSC and PAC for their consideration, as it will add to the considerable weight of evidence they already possess that the MoJ has wilfully obstructed the collection and release of data which would give a true picture of the performance of the contractor, and continues to do so, despite the assurances recently given by junior minister Helen Grant.