New CRT Head of Legal has a good memory

January 2017 - Allan Richards digs into some intriguing metadata

A Freedom of Information Act request has resulted in publication of the letters from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – and shown what an excellent memory the Canal & River Trust's Head of Legal has.

​The letters in question resulted in a meeting with C&RT and the Trusts subsequent commitment to produce and publish its policy regarding the Equality Act (Trust forced to produce an equality policy – see Floater article from December 2016)

In a letter (dated 13 June 2016) EHRC Senior Solicitor, Rosemary Lloyd, noted that the Commission has received several complaints concerning the way that disabled or pregnant boaters had been treated by the Trust. The letter asked several questions and proposed a meeting to discuss how the Trust put reasonable adjustments in place for boater with protected characteristics. However, after C&RT failed to respond. Rosemary Lloyd sent a second letter on 3 August with the first letter attached.

In making the later information request, ‘Steve’ (he did not provide a surname) asked for the following on 7 November -

‘Please provide copies of all letters and postal communications between the Canal and River Trust and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission sent or received between the dates of 1st April 2016 to November 7th (inclusive) 2016.
Please provide copies of all meeting dates, notes and minutes taken between CRT and the EHRC from 1st April to 7th November 2016.
Please provide copies of the names of those present at any meetings held between canal and river trust, and the equalities human rights commission between 1st April and 7th November 2016.
Please provide copies of all internal communications related to CRT and the EHRC between dates 1st April and 7th November 2016.
Please provide copies of any communications between Shoesmiths law firm and CRT related to the above subjects.
Please provide me with a copy of your current Equalities policy.’

On 2 December, The Trust told him – ‘Further to your initial request of 7th November, I am writing to inform you that we are still collating the information you have requested and apologise for the delay. We shall issue a response as soon as possible.’

On 8 December, a few days later than required by law, the Trust managed the massive task of collating the information. Massive might be an overstatement; it consisted of just the two letters mentioned above, a process document it had already provided more than six months previously and an unsigned document which purported to be notes from a single meeting with EHRC on 4 October.

According to the notes produced by C&RT, Richard Parry (Chief Exec), Sean Williams (Wefare Officer) and Tom Deards (new Head of Legal) attended. But which one of them provided the only copy of ‘notes or minutes’ in existence? … and why is it that CaRT have stressed in the response ‘this is an internal note produced by CRT and has not been agreed with EHRC’.

Sad to say, the metadata for the document shows that it was created by Tom Deards on 31 November, some eight weeks after the EHRC meeting and some three weeks after ‘Steve’ made his request.

Perhaps Mr Deards has a good memory…

Photos: (top) EHRC letter and (below) photo of Tom Deards

User login