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CONFIDENTIALITY

0 votes
If I write a letter to the Clerk to distribute to all Councillors is that letter confidential to the Councillors? In other words while the letter was not marked confidential could Councillors share it with others outside of the Council  if they so choose?

The code of conduct refers to the sharing of confidential information but how is that status determined/defined i.e. does correspondence have to be marked "in confidence"?
asked by (1.1k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
It is a confidential as the recipients chose to make it.  If it is important that it is not shared outside of the council, then you would need to state it clearly in the letter that this is the case.  But that won't stop them sharing it but it will provide legal recourse if they do.  The only other option is to add a self destruct to the letter as per Mission Impossible.
answered by (11.5k points)
Code of conduct reads "He/she shall not disclose information which is confidential or where disclosure is prohibited by law". I realise from a previous thread  that the existing disciplinary regime provides little in the way of sanction for offenders but surely such obligations should be more clearly defined?
Bonus point for niche MI reference!
The issue is that you can fling as much legislation at this as you want but for this type of situation, if the confidentiality is breached then it is just too late....  you cannot prevent people from gossiping / sharing information regardless of how confidential it is...
I appreciate what you say i.e. you cant stop it but not to try an provide some direction is surely ignoring the problem ? I would have thought if I sent an E mail which was then  forwarded that would contravene the Data Protection Act in that I would be identified ?
0 votes

 If you tell somebody something "In confidence" you are essentially placing trust them rather than a legal obligation not to tell anyone else.  All Council correspondence is normally has some information, and is therefore potentially accessible in the public domain by default unless it is categorised as confidential or exempt. Unless the full Council resolved to classify the information in the letter as confidential, Cllrs would have the right to put it in the public domain if they so chose.

answered by (13.6k points)
Dear All. Thank you very much for your precise advice which I find disheartening  especially when there is so much internal correspondence which Councillors refuse the share. Still as with everything its always useful to know the rules of the game
Depending on the nature of the correspondence, internal documentation may be requested through the FOI system.

The 'whatdotheyknow' website has lots of information about that and can be a powerful tool.
Thank you Caroline. Unfortunately old habits die hard on some Councils. A recent request re the provision of background papers on Agendas has so far gone on for 6 months without  any progress or a decision. Whereas my FOI request for an update on the discussions to date so far has been submitted 3 times without a response . But in the meantime they have developed a high corresponders policy. We carry on the fight and play the game
0 votes
once something has been communicated in an intransient form it becomes difficult to keep confidential, even with the best will in the world there are always those who will break a confidence, sorry if this appears cynical but past experience has taught me.
answered by (240 points)

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