As long ago as 14 March 2013, I sent a Request under section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to the CPS asking for documents relating to their ‘Tick and Star’ policy. This first came to light following a leaked e-mail in which staff serving Isleworth Crown Court were advised to mark briefs with either a tick or a star, denoting whether they were expected to produce guilty pleas or were complex or difficult matters. The guidance recommended sending the latter type to the independent Bar.
The DPP wrote to re-assure the Chair of the Bar Council that he had no evidence that the practice at Isleworth was anything other than localised.
Today, way beyond the statutory time for a response and over four months on since the Request, the CPS refused to disclose documents relating to the ‘Tick and Star’ policy. They cited s.36(2)(c) FOIA 2000, on the grounds that disclosure would interfere with the proper administration of public affairs, as there was an ongoing ‘review’ and staff would not participate openly if they knew their input [on these public affairs] would not be kept ‘private’. After I sent a previous FOIA Request, the DPP did not rely on s.36(2)(c) to prevent disclosure of staff e-mails over Agency policy in the West Midlands. Starmer told the Bar Council on 24.04.13 that ‘Tick and Star’ guidance was issued only in the London North Area. Despite this knowledge, the CPS now say disclosure will ‘prejudice the whole process of establishing the CPS position with regard to the allocation of case files’.
So why is Keir Starmer Q.C. so coy about ‘Tick and Star’ material before he leaves in September? I only asked for documents – not a round-robin discussion! Just what have they got to hide?
For the CPS s.17 FOIA 2000 refusal click here: Mitchell 3887 s17 notice
For my response in a complaint today to the Information Commissioner’s Office click here: ICO Watch this space…