Jonathan Leake at the Sunday Times has discovered that the Information Commissioner believes that offences were committed under the Freedom of Information Act at CRU. As readers here know, the ICO is not able to take any action because there is apparently a six month time-bar on summary offences such as these.
The emails which are now public reveal that Mr Holland's requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation. Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act makes it an offence for public authorities to act so as to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information. Mr Holland's FOI requests were submitted in 2007/8, but it has only recently come to light that they were not dealt with in accordance with the Act.
The legislation requires action within six months of the offence taking place, so by the time the action taken came to light the opportunity to consider a prosecution was long gone. The ICO is gathering evidence from this and other time-barred cases to support the case for a change in the law. It is important to note that the ICO enforces the law as it stands - we do not make it.
Intruigingly, there does seem to be a hint of a possibility of action under the data protection act.
We will also be studying the investigation reports (by Lord Russell [sic] and Norfolk Police), and we will then consider what regulatory action, if any, should then be taken under the Data Protection Act.
(Source-press release, so no link).