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Monday, 27 December 2010

Information Commissioner: BBC Must Divulge Capita Contract Details

The Information Commissioner recently ruled that the BBC were wrong to withhold details of "sweeteners" offered to the main TV Licensing contractor.

The initial Freedom of Information Act request, made on 9th May 2008, has been bounced backwards and forwards between the requester, BBC, and now the Information Commissioner, for almost two years. In that time the BBC have tried their utmost to avoid giving any details of the incentives given to Capita as part of their TV Licensing agreement.

Initially the BBC argued that providing the information would be too costly, but their own internal reviewer deemed this decision inappropriate. Having failed on the cost argument the BBC resorted to using the commercial interest get-out, which allows public bodies to withhold information that could be damaging to their business.

With the Information Commissioner taking an increasing interest in the case, the BBC backtracked on their commercial interest argument. In more recent representations to the Information Commissioner the BBC resorted to their almost routine argument that disclosure would be prejudicial to the prevention and detection of crime.

Eventually, after almost 20 pages of concise legal discussion, the Information Commissioner concluded that the BBC were wrong to withhold the information. He ordered that they make a full disclosure by 11th January 2011.

We'll publish that disclosure here in full as soon as the BBC bother their contemptuous arses to prepare it.

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