24 January 2010

And my file contained.............

Now that the New Somerton Town Council has made public information available I'm having an interesting time picking my way through the veritable tsunami of information. Much as you might expect, much of it is pretty mundane and it does cause me to wonder why the 'ancien regime' fought so hard to keep it all secret.

What has been of interest has been the opportunity to look at the Stasi-file that the old Town Council were building up on me. The old Council received, from what I've seen so far, three legal opinions and the focus of those enquiries was, a) to see if the old Council could keep Public Documents secret and, b) if they had any grounds to launch a legal attack on me in order to shut Muck&Brass down.

The advice that they received was that a) they needed to release Public Documents and b) there was no basis on which to mount a legal attack on me. But, having said that, the terms of the third opinion that they received make pretty scary reading. Here's a quote:

"I presume that now you feel you would like to do is: -
• Refuse or restrict disclosure of information on whatever grounds are available to you;
• Curb Mr Connolly's unwelcome comments to the world at large.
We shall need to consider the FOI provisions and issues of defamation and harassment."

Later in the letter the advice states:
"I have not read any of Mr Connolly's correspondence on the broad subject but I imagine that he will say throughout all this that it is a free country and he has rights - of access to information, free speech, etc. In principle, he does but we will have to look at the ways in which that freedom can be limited or denied."

Finally, and most frighteningly, the advice states:
"What I do expect, having only glanced over this matter, is that Mr Connolly is not a man who will cow to threats, empty or otherwise, so if we are going to look for a solution then it needs to be an effective one."

Probably the legal equivalent of torching cars, smashing windows and threatening GBH.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly