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Minutes from 2 years ago edited

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The clerk (under instruction from the pc) has edited minutes for GDPR reasons. Should this have been redacted so that everyone can see that a change has been made?

In other cases the clerk has crossed out the person's name but it is still readable!

If the person is identifiable by other means, such as location, should this also be removed?
asked by (320 points)

1 Answer

0 votes
The GDPR became law on 25th May 2018. Are you saying that records prior to that date have been altered in order to comply with the legislation? In which case, how far back do you go? Policy on naming individual residents in minutes is a matter for the council to determine, but shouldn't be applied retrospectively. It is often necessary to publish identifiable information.

Please provide more detail of how this decision came about and the rationale behind it.
answered by (17.4k points)
The pc has minuted that a parishioner's property has vermin, a collapsing drain and that he is blocking a footpath. All these issues were referred to the appropriate council department and found to be false. The parishioner has been named in these allegations and he wants his name removed as he believes the comments to be defamatory and against the data protection act (sorry, not GDPR, as I said previously).
Ouch! You're learning that lesson the hard way. Minutes of Council meetings should not be so specific as to single out an identifiable individual in this way, whether the allegations are fully proven or, as in this case, little more than hearsay.  "Members expressed concern regarding the condition of a property in Acacia Way and resolved to report their concerns to..." or, if there are so few properties in Acacia Way that it's still easy to ascertain which property is under the spotlight, "... a property in the village..."

The GDPR situation is not straightforward. If we assume that the minutes of the meeting are an accurate record of the deliberations that took place, they should not be altered under the right to rectification, as they are not inaccurate (even though the information they contain was subsequently proved to be inaccurate). The right to erasure does not deal specifically with circumstances such as this and you could argue that you do not have to comply with this request.  However, bearing in mind the particular circumstances of this case, my inclination would be to comply where it is reasonable and practical to do so.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that under the GDPR, you only have one calendar month from the date of the request to action it or notify rejection.
Ouch indeed. There seems to be a personal dispute between some of the councillors and the resident. He has put a complaint in to the ICO about the information that has been published about him by the pc.  Is it appropriate for the pc to be discussing and voting on matters that affect only this resident's property and nobody else, while there is an ongoing complaint against the pc?
I think the appropriate legislation here is the First Law of Holes. "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!"

Councillors must, at all times, demonstrate the highest standards of conduct and behaviour. There is no place for personal disputes. Members should be reminded of the Nolan Principles and the Code of Conduct. Any further discussion should be limited to the council's reponse to the complaint made by the resident and you have a legitimate case to exclude the press and public whilst you conduct these discussions.

An amicable resolution with the resident may save you from years of conflict, complaint and legal process (with all the financial implications that carries). If you cannot achieve this alone, perhaps your local association might be able to support you in the process. Whatever the background, whatever has happened since, in simple terms, the council made a serious error of judgement in publishing allegations that turned out to be unfounded and, in my view, has a moral obligation to offer an unqualified and sincere apology.

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