Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Times does it again

Today there's an article by Ben Webster in the Times (UK) that claims "The University of East Anglia wrote this week to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee giving the impression that it had been exonerated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)."

The 'evidence' Webster provides is that both the University and the Deputy Information Commissioner agree that the Deputy Information Commissioner based recent comments solely on prima facie evidence from stolen emails. In fact, given that both the University and the Deputy Information Commissioner both agree that there has not yet even been any investigation, it's hard to see why the University would claim it has been exonerated. Indeed the University hasn't made any such claim.

The UEA memo to the House of Commons committee actually states:
3.7.6 On 22 January 2010, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) released a statement to a journalist, which was widely misinterpreted in the media as a finding by the ICO that UEA had breached Section 77 of the FOIA by withholding raw data. A subsequent letter to UEA from the ICO (29 January 2010) indicated that no breach of the law has been established; that the evidence the ICO had in mind about whether there was a breach was no more than prima facie; and that the FOI request at issue did not concern raw data but private email exchanges.

Another case of the Times getting carried away over nothing? There is arguably a prima facie case that it is Ben Webster of the Times who does not understand the difference between 'exonerated' and 'no breach of the law has been established'.

UPDATE - midday 28 Feb 10: Australia's very own showman (who finds it entertaining to mislead his readers), Herald-Sun blogger Andrew Bolt, has copied part of the TimesOnLine article and pasted it under his own leading paragraph:

It's amazing how many unfounded claims Bolt packs into the one short sentence he prefaces his copy and paste from the Times article.

First, contrary to what Bolt states, the university reports using the best information available, updating the records as necessary. The University drew the attention of the Parliamentary committee to the fact that the Office of the Information Commissioner has not found that the University nor any person involved in the matter has committed an offence. The OIC has not yet investigated the matter, although it has stated there is a prima faciecase on the basis of the stolen emails. The University has issued a statement that it will cooperate fully if the OIC inquires into the matter.

Andrew rarely bothers with checking sources, but has strong talent as a rumour-monger, especially when the rumours have no basis in fact.

No comments:

Post a Comment