May I first of all apologise for the delay in responding to your request and thank you for your patience and understanding in allowing us time to ensure that all of the victims and innocent parties have been able to be protected and updated.
I write in connection with your request for information received on the 15th March 2013 and subsequent request for an internal review of the original decision. Having had the opportunity to review the initial response, I have decided to partially uphold your appeal. By redacting some of the information from the interview record, I believe that the rest of the material is suitable for disclosure. Having upheld your appeal I will deal with the response as if it were a new request.
Your request asked:
Please provide a copy of the record of police interview with Jimmy Savile dated October 1, 2009.
In a recent CPS report by Alison Levitt QC this is referred to as "Document MG15: record of police interview under caution with Jimmy Savile dated 1st October 2009 (7 pages)". My request is for the full seven-page record of the interview.
I understand that the names of any officers of junior rank may be redacted in line with the Data Protection Act and that names of any victims of alleged offences may be redacted so as not to identify them.
It will be useful at this point to clarify your request for ‘… (7 pages)’. The seven page document referred to by Alison Levitt QC was a record of taped interview (ROTI). This is an interview summary used by the police and CPS. A tape transcript is a full record of the conversation held during the interview and is considerably longer. In this case, in the interest of transparency, it has been decided to release information from the transcript and not the ‘summarised’ ROTI. The transcript is in two parts and this reflects the use of two interview tapes. Part 1 is the longer and contains 20 pages. Part two contains 6 pages.
Following receipt of your request, searches were carried out and a relevant interview record was located. I am not obliged to release all of the information, as the duty in Section 1(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 30(1)(a)(b) – Investigations
Section 38(1)(a) –Health and Safety
Section 40(2) Personal Information
Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires Surrey Police, when refusing to provide such information (because the information is exempt) to provide the applicant with a notice which: (a) states that fact, (b) specifies the exemption in question and (c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. Accordingly this letter serves as such a notice.
Section 30(1)(a)(b) - Investigations - This exemption is qualified and class based therefore a public interest test is required.
Sec 30 Factors Favouring Disclosure
Jimmy Savile was a very high profile and famous celebrity and as a result there has been a huge amount of interest in the allegations made about him since his death. Significant amounts of information about him have already been placed into the public domain through media articles, official press releases from the police and other bodies involved and through some victims themselves coming forward with their accounts.
Serious allegations have been made that the incidents of abuse are incredibly widespread and may even involve other persons who are in the public eye. The public therefore have a genuine interest in being informed as to the nature and
circumstances of these incidents, who may have been involved and what, if any was the involvement of national bodies such as the NHS and BBC. To disclose this information would provide the public with increased knowledge of Savile’s responses to the allegations made about him to Surrey Police.
Sec 30 Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure
All such matters are subject of an active on-going police investigation in many force areas. It cannot be clear at present what effect disclosures through FOI of investigation material may have upon this investigation. Care must be taken to not compromise any strand of the investigation or cause any undue harm to the victims and families involved. Commander Peter Spindler, from the investigation has said; "The public's response to this issue has been astounding. We are dealing with alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale. The profile of this operation has empowered a staggering number of victims to come forward to report the sexual exploitation which occurred during their childhood. I am pleased that victims feel confident enough to speak out about the abuse they suffered and would like to reassure the public that we take all these cases very seriously and they will be investigated with the utmost sensitivity.’
Sec 30 Balance Test
Although the investigation is of a very high profile nature the needs of the victims must be of paramount importance. Although there is an undeniable public benefit in disclosing the information in this case, Surrey Police took the decision to be transparent in the way it dealt with the allegations that it received. The proactive publication of the Operation Ornament senior investigating officers final report demonstrates the Force’s commitment to be open about Surrey Police’s involvement.
In addition, the report by Alison Levitt QC to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has placed more information regarding Savile into the public domain.
The disclosure of the interview records by Surrey Police shows a continued commitment to openness, however, there are parts of the interviews that contain information that is not suitable for publication at this time. It clearly would not be in the public interest to disclose material that would be likely to damage an on-going or future investigation. Therefore, I have decided that in this case, the public interest is best served by non-disclosure of the material. The material in question has been redacted and clearly marked with the relevant exemption.
Section 38(1)(a) Health and Safety This exemption is qualified and prejudice (Harm) based therefore a public interest test and evidence of harm is required.
Sec. 38 Harm
The interviewing officers were acting on instruction and their actions were supported by the force. There is concern that any personal scrutiny of individuals will cause them harm and distress and may impact on the way they are viewed by the public and their peers.
Sec. 38 Factors Favouring Disclosure
Openness and transparency are strong arguments for disclosure of information. It is important that the public have confidence in the way that investigations are conducted. Releasing this information would allow the public to know the names and rank of the officers who conducted the interview.
Sec. 38 Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure
The impact that disclosure will have on the welfare of the officers is a strong argument against disclosure. Surrey Police has confidence in the abilities of the officers concerned. The officers were acting under instruction while carrying out the interview. Where officers are carrying out their duty it would not be responsible to expose them to personal criticism when their actions are supported by the force.
Sec. 38 Balance
When carrying out the balance test, I have to consider the strongest reason for disclosure against the strongest reason for non-disclosure. The ‘public interest’ in relation to the balance test means that there is a public benefit in disclosing the information. It is not simply something which the public might find interesting.
Surrey Police has a duty of care to all of its employees. Where officers are carrying out their duty it would not be responsible to expose them to personal criticism when their actions are supported by the force. It is important that the public have confidence in the officers that serve them. Where there is wrongdoing suggested on the part of an individual officer or officers, this may sway the balance in favour of disclosure. However in this case as previously stated the officers were acting under instruction and so release of their details would not be of any material benefit to the public or enhance the debate about the allegations made against Savile.
Section 40(2) - Personal Information – You acknowledge in your request that the information requested will contain personal information about individuals or information which may lead to their identification. Section 40(2), in this case, is an absolute exemption, requires neither a Harm nor a Public Interest Test in order to justify its application. Again, those entries have been redacted and marked accordingly.
In addition to the response we have given Surrey Police can neither confirm nor deny that any other information is held in relation to information that may or may not originate from exempt bodies, or in relation to any other material which may or may not form part of the investigation.
The two exemptions relevant to this statement are S23 (5) Information supplied by, or relating to certain exempt bodies and S30(3), by virtue of both S30(1) and (2), investigations and proceedings conducted by public bodies.
S 23 is an absolute exemption, although it would be fair to say that it is a matter of public record that investigations of the type here, primarily focused on child abuse, may attract the involvement of the Child Exploitation Online Protection Agency. They are part of the larger National Crime Agency and are therefore an exempt body under freedom of information legislation. This should not be taken as an inference that they are, or are not involved in this case, simply that your enquiry, by its very nature relates to the type of activities they may undertake.
With regard S30, this is a qualified exemption and I am obliged therefore to consider the public interest in neither confirming nor denying that information is held.
Factors favouring not maintaining a neither confirm nor deny stance.
To confirm whether or not there is any information relevant to your request would satisfy the public need to know, at this time, where material relating to the Jimmy Savile allegations may, or may not be found. This not only allows them to exercise their rights to access such material but also means that the public are better informed.
Factors favouring maintaining the neither confirm nor deny stance.
By confirming or not that information is held, would in this case disclose what facts may or may not exist in relation to an on-going investigation. If doing so would harm that investigation, denying justice to the victims or jeopardising such an investigation from reaching a satisfactory conclusion then it would not be in the public interest to do so.
Confirming or denying that certain material were, or were not held in this case would harm the on-going investigation, therefore it cannot be in the public interest to do so.
No inference can be taken from these statements that further information does or does not exist.
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, Surrey Police provides you the right to request a re-examination of your case under its review procedure. How to do this is set out in the attached Appeals Notice. Having followed the full procedure, if you are still dissatisfied, then you have the right to direct your comments to the Information Commissioner who will give your case consideration.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in Surrey Police. Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write or contact us on 01483 - 630007 quoting the reference number above.
Information Access Manager
Remember you can make a request for an FOI disclosure log
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