PCS asked ICO boss for information about bosses’ 11% pay increases

ICOPCS has asked the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate a breach of FoI law that could lead to the commissioner himself being fined thousands of pounds.

If successful, it would be the first such prosecution under section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act, which states it is a criminal offence to alter, block, destroy or conceal information.

Any organisation or person found guilty can face a fine of up to £5,000.

The union’s branch at the ICO had requested information about, and justification for, average pay increases of 11% for three senior executives, while other staff were being offered far less.

The commissioner Christopher Graham initially claimed no relevant details were held but after an internal review, significant records were released including from Mr Graham’s email account.

The union has written to the ICO saying it “finds it hard to believe” Mr Graham did not know this material existed, “particularly since much of the information had been generated by himself”, and has formally asked for it to be investigated as a s.77 breach.

The union’s ICO members will hold the last day of a three-day strike today in a dispute over pay, and will be protesting outside the organisation’s data protection conference in Manchester.

Salaries at the ICO are lower than those for equivalent jobs in the civil service, often by several thousand pounds a year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We had every right to see this material and it is extraordinary we are having to go to these lengths with the very commissioner charged with upholding information rights.

“Rather than try to pull the wool over our eyes, the commissioner would do better to sit down with us and negotiate decent pay rises for his staff in recognition of the important and very well respected work they do.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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