C&RT blames junior member of staff twice more over fake document

May 2018 - The Information Commissioner has responded to a complaint that the Canal and River Trust breached section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act in the process of responding to an information request. Samantha Coward, Senior Case Officer states 'My decision can only be based on evidence and there is no evidence to confirm for definite that a plan or document was removed from the website during the time period alleged. Even if there was this evidence, it would still need to be demonstrated that it was removed deliberately and intentionally to prevent its disclosure under FOIA'.

In The Floater's first article (see below) it was suggested that C&RT was trying to shift the blame from a director, Heather Clarke, to a junior member of staff, Frazer Halcrow.

Allan Richards, who made the complaint, explains how C&RT has again blamed the junior member of staff, Frazer Halcrow, in an effort to convince the Information Commissioner that it had not breached section 77.​

The allegation made to C&RT was: 'That by removing the East Midlands Action Plan from C&RT's website and then providing me with a false document in response to part 1 of my request both C&RT and its Strategy, Impact & Engagement Director (Heather Clarke) have breached section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act.'

C&RT's response was that it could find no evidence of the East Midlands Action Plan having been removed from its website. It also claimed the 'false document' had not been created by Heather Clarke but by a junior member of staff, Frazer Halcrow by 'mistake'.

However, despite C&RT saying that it could find no evidence of the East Midlands Action Plan having been removed from its website, the fact remains that it has stated quite clearly that it had been published in 2014. Here is Andy Glyde, the Trust’s Governance, Assurance & Risk Manager's, explanation made to Ms Coward:

'With regards to the paragraph:

“On pages 26 and 27 of the Strategic Waterway Plan for the East Midlands, which is available at the following link https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/our-regions/east-midlands-waterways , there are 8 objectives which are split into 19 priorities and all the action plans lead from here. The East Midlands Waterway Partnership spent 2013 writing the strategic plan and action plan which were subsequently published in 2014. Therefore, 2014/2015 was the first year the East Midlands had an action plan. Please see this original action plan attached entitled ‘Original Action Plan and Progress 2014-2015’.”

It should have in fact read:

“Within the strategic plan, https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/refresh/media/original/25871-east-midlands-strategic-waterway-plan.pdf?v=340ae0 , on pages 26 & 27 there are 8 objectives which are split into 19 priorities and all our action plans lead from here.

Our Partnership, as most probably with the others, were formed in 2012 and spent most of 2013 writing their strategic plan which was published in 2014; so 2014/15 was the first year that we had an action plan.”

The above two paragraphs is the text provided by the Waterways Manager [Sean McGinley] to the FOI Officer [Frazer Halcrow]. The FOI Officer altered the structure of these two sentences and presented his own version of this text to you in his response of 4 December 2017.

'The difference being that in the rewording the reference to the action plan was made prior to the reference to publication, implying that both the Strategic Waterway Plan and Action Plan were published. It is however clear from the sentences that the Waterways Manager did provide that it was only the Strategic plan that was published on the website in 2014.'

Later, in response to a question from from Ms Coward, Mr Glyde also accused Frazer Halcrow of changing a direct link provided by Mr McGinley to the strategic waterway plan (see above). He accepted that he was remiss in not providing the above information when a complaint was made to C&RT but could provide no plausible explanation explanation for the ommission. No corroboration of Mr Glydes statement was provided by Mr Halcrow or Mr McGinley.

Back in February, the Floater stated 'From their response it seems C&RT is now trying to shift the blame from a director to a junior member of staff.' How true!

Having accepted that a fake document was provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, they say that the document was not created by Strategy, Impact & Engagement Director, Heather Clarke as suggested by its metadata but by a junior member of staff, Frazer Halcrow, acting on his own.

This was a 'mistake'. Now they claim that Frazer Halcrow, again acting on his own, altered a response provided by Waterway Manager, Sean McGinley to indicate that the document in question had previously been published on C&RT's website in 2014. A second 'mistake'. C&RT also accuse him of altering a link provided by Sean McGinley to another document. A third 'mistake'

If C&RT's explanation is to be believed, one is left wondering how many more 'mistakes' Mr Halcrow has made in the dozens of information requests he has answered over the last couple of years.

What action, C&RT has taken in regard to Mr Halcrow's 'mistakes' is not known. Indeed, it is not known if he is still employed by C&RT. All that can be said is that he appears to have been replaced as C&RT's Information Officer by Melissa Ashdown-Hoff about the same time as Mr Glyde was explaining his further 'mistakes' to the Information Commissioner.

More than two weeks ago, C&RT were asked to provide copies of any internal communications made prior to Mr Halcow's response to the information request on 4 December 2017. So far they have failed to respond.

See also: Complaint to Information Commissioner over fake document as C&RT blames junior member of staff.

Photos: (1st) Andy Glyde - accused a junior member of staff three times, (2nd) Frazer Halcrow, (3rd) Heather Clarke, (4th) The metadata that says Heather Clarke was the author.

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