Liverpool council facing contempt proceedings over mayoral expenses FOI request

Contempt of court proceedings could be taken against Liverpool City Council if it fails to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request over details of Mayor Joe Anderson and his team’s expenses.

The FOI request was submitted by complainant Stephen Delahunty and monitored by the WhatDoTheyKnow website.

Liverpool City Council has been given 35 days from May 23 by the Information Commissioner’s Office to provide the information or face contempt allegations.

The order states: “Despite the intervention of the Commissioner, Liverpool City Council (‘the council’) has not provided a response to the request in accordance with the FOIA. The Commissioner therefore reminds the council of its obligations under the FOIA and requires that it either respond to the request in accordance with the legislation.”

Delahunty’s request read: “Can you please give me a breakdown on how much Mayor Joe Anderson and his Mayoral team have claimed in expenses since being elected on 5th May 2012?”

The council acknowledged the request on February 17, 2016 and provided a reference number.

After received no response, the complainant requested an internal review on April 20, 2016.

Delahunty contacted the Commissioner on November 25, 2016 on 25 November 2016 to complain about the way his request for information had been handled.

The FOIA states that a public authority in receipt of a request for information has a duty to respond within 20 working days.

On December 16, 2016, the Commissioner wrote to the council advising it to respond to the request within 10 working days.

She instructed the council to either provide the information or issue a refusal notice in accordance with the requirements of section 17 of the FOIA.

She also provided links to her guide to freedom of information and guidance issued in respect of the time in which a response to a request for information should be provided.

On May 19, the complainant confirmed to the Commissioner that they had still not received a response to the request.

The ICO said: “To date, the council has not provided a response to the complainant. It is clear to the Commissioner that, in this case, the council has failed to respond to the request in accordance with the legislation.”

A Liverpool City Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the order and will respond.”