Anyway, yesterday we learned more of the circumstances around the tiff between the U.K. Commissioner's office (ICO) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) over e-mails made public by the CRU Hack. Back in January, the ICO issued a statement in which they suggested that that the UEA had been in breach of Section 77 of the U.K. FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). The UEA responded to their statement with a demand for a retraction, and got this letter (though no retraction) from the ICO, which the UEA claims demonstrates that "the evidence the ICO had in mind about whether there was a breach was no more than prima facie." A couple of things:
1) The ICO argues that their original statement "may be read" to suggest that their evidence is merely prima facie, though that term does not appear in the original statement.
2) They blame any misinterpretation of the statement on...wait for it...Jonathon Leake, of Leakegate infamy.
Errors like this are frequently made in press reports and the ICO cannot be expected to correct them, particularly when the ICO has not itself referred to penalties or sanctions in its own statement.
For all the above reasons the ICO will not be issuing a further press statement covering these points. The ICO does not wish to encourage further media reports on the matter, indeed our original press statement was only drafted for one journalist [Jonathon Leake] in response to a specific enquiry.
Although, frankly Mr. Leake may be getting a bum deal in this case; it is not obvious that the ICO statement should be interpreted as the ICO now suggests.