‘Secrecy’ claim after resignation

John Harrison
John Harrison
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Accusations of secrecy have been made against Peterborough City Council after it refused to disclose information relating to the departure of its former chief finance officer.

A Peterborough Telegraph Freedom Of Information (FOI) request for all documents and correspondence relating to the departure of John Harrison was rejected after the council claimed it would breach data protection principles.

The authority said in July that Mr Harrison had resigned from his position “to pursue other opportunities,” with no further explanation given.

The corporate director for resources had received £184,572 the previous year, including pension contributions.

Cllr Ed Murphy, Labour group leader on the council, said: “It is extraordinary that there has been so much secrecy behind senior employment and consultancy practices at Peterborough City Council.”

Mr Harrison’s LinkedIn page says he is now the interim director of resources at Birmingham Children’s Trust.

Explaining its decision not to release any documents or correspondence, the council said: “The exemption applies because disclosure of this information would not be fair or lawful and we consider that the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

“Whilst we accept that Mr Harrison had a senior role at the authority and there may be public interest in disclosure, we believe that this is outweighed by an individual’s strong expectation of privacy relating to their decision to leave a role.”

The PT also asked to see Mr Harrison’s expenses form 2016/17 and until the period he left in July, which was provided by the council. It showed he had claimed for more than £2,250.

Claims included £238 to stay at the Malmaison hotel in Manchester.

The council appointed Marion Kelly as the interim corporate director for resources following Mr Harrison’s resignation.