11th September 2016
We lodged the following original Freedom of Information request with Merseyside Police on 2nd August 2016:
Merseyside Police originally said they weren’t obliged to supply most of the information and quoted exemptions under Section 30 (Criminal investigations and proceedings) and Section 21 (Information reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means).
Here’s an explanation of these two exemptions from the regulator, the Information Commissioner:
And here’s a link to Merseyside Police’s detailed response:
The only point they addressed here was the first one, answering ‘yes’ – they did visit Sherlock House, the site of the criminal damage incident.
We’re left none the wiser on everything else and we asked the police to internally review their response. At least 12 large circulation newspapers had been laced with foreseeable and avoidable inaccuracies since the original stories were published on 12th July and there seems to be no desire on the part of these newspapers to acknowledge the printing of falsehoods, or to retract or apologise.
The risk is still out there, that this false information – which links Corbyn supporters to the incident – will unfairly influence the minds of members of the public, some of whom will get a chance to cast their vote in the forthcoming Labour Party Leadership Ballot.
It’s possible that this false information – which needs publicly retracting – could swing the minds of enough voters and persuade them to crown Owen Smith – Angela Eagle’s successor in the leadership race – as the new leader, which would serve the 172 dissenting Labour MPs, would be built on lies and would be simply outrageous.
In support of their choice of Section 21 as an exemption, the police pointed us to Viscount Rothermere’s The Daily Mail for the information. This action is insulting and beyond outrageous.
We still don’t know whether a brick was thrown and whether the police acknowledge that Angela Eagle’s office window was not broken, although they appear to have told Peter Hitchens that it wasn’t broken, according to his recent article in the Mail on Sunday.
That’s the background.
Here’s a link to the revised response, which followed an internal review:
And here are the details:
This time the Section 30 exemption still stands on points 2 and 3, but the ridiculous Section 21 response (asking us to look for the information in the Daily Mail) has been dropped on points 4 and 5.
Instead Section 30 has been used to sweep up points 2 to 5 and store all the information safely out of sight of the public behind a virtual ‘padlocked door’.
This time Merseyside Police included the following line of advice:
By searching on the internet using the search words Angela Eagle office attack or similar a volume of news items about the incident will be found
So this time, it’s not a particular story in the Daily Mail. We’re being referred to the very opposite of ‘specific’ i.e. the whole of the internet.
I tried this and found it to be a very good example of how ‘lies become truth’. Reader, follow the police advice and try a Google Images search for “Angela Eagle Office Attack”. You will NOT be given images of her office window. In their place will be the following, which are images of a stairwell window on a different side of the building, a direct result of the UK press and media reporting falsehoods as truth:
We will now appeal to the Information Commissioner as is our right, and since our rights were returned to us in June 2011 following a 20 month, unlawful, extended ban.
What’s troubling us here is that Peter Hitchens of the Mail On Sunday appears to have been given access to information by Merseyside Police which we have been denied – on the specific point about whether Angela Eagle’s office window at the rear of the building had been attacked.
Here’s a tweet to Peter, sent today in the hope that he might let us in on how he came across this information, which appeared in the Mail on Sunday on 24th July 2016:
16th September 2016
An appeal was lodged today with the Information Commissioner: