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More FOI Whitewash? - Mr Malarkey

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As with other FoI 'revelations' we've seen in the papers, this is actually quite an old story - the response came out on 19 November last year[1].  Whether they've only just noticed or if they were saving up I don't know.  It has clearly been asked by someone who has researched how the FoI process works and has realised you have to be ultra-pedantic to get the information you want rather than that they want to give you (ie not Buster).  Though they were clearly going on an earlier incorrect rumour that the wedding had been for one of Malarkey's daughters

It's worth putting the response in full (if only to show how to ask an FoI), slightly reformatted:

Quote

Q1. Are members of the Manx general public allowed to rent / book the Government House gardens for private events?   Enquiries from non-government organisations, charities or business, asking whether the Lieutenant Governor and his wife will host events for them are regularly considered. In addition, the Lieutenant Governor may make personal offers on condition that no costs would fall to Manx taxpayers.

Q2. If the answer is "yes", what is the process to hire the gardens, the conditions under which they can be hired and the name of the person to contact to make a reservation / booking? Government House and its gardens are not available for hire as advised above. Any enquiries regarding whether the Lieutenant Governor will host an event should be sent by email to government.house@gov.im.

Q3. Who (full name of official, their department and job title) agreed to and authorised an MHK to hold his daughter's wedding in the Government House gardens on 15 September 2018? The Lieutenant Governor made a personal offer to Mr and Mrs Malarkey to hold their wedding in the garden of Government House on 15 September 2018. Please note it was their wedding, not Mr Malarkey’s daughters.

Q4. In whose name was the booking (or whatever terminology was agreed) for the event? It was recorded as the wedding of Mr & Mrs Malarkey.

Q5. On what basis was that authorisation given and when? This was a personal offer made by the Lieutenant Governor on the basis of no cost to the Manx taxpayer.

Q6. Were any government resources (financial, materials, equipment, administrative or personnel) used in any aspect of this event? Apart from some initial (and minimal) administration to advise what would be necessary for the event to run smoothly, no government resources were used.

Q7. Were any wedding guests allowed access to Government House for any purpose (e.g. toilets, catering, photographs)? On arrival, and at the suggestion of the Lieutenant Governor who was himself a wedding guest, guests walked through the House to pick up a drink on their way to a marquee on the lawn. The outside toilets were available for use throughout the event.

Q8. If the Manx general public are not allowed access to the gardens for private events, what special conditions are there for MHKs and their families? There are no special conditions for MHKs to access the gardens for private events.

Q9. Has The Treasury assessed whether the free provision of Government House gardens for the purpose of a wedding would be considered as a benefit in kind for the purpose of income tax if the beneficiary was in receipt of an IOM Government salary? A practical refusal reason applies under s11(3)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2015 (“the Act”) as the Cabinet Office does not hold the information requested.

Q10. If a member of the Manx general public cannot hire the grounds, but an MHK can (evidenced by the wedding of 15 September 2018), this would contravene the Government's Code of Corporate Governance - Principle 1: Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or other friends. This is a statement rather than a request for information and therefore outwith section 8(1) of the Act.

Q11. What are the sanctions for a breach of any of the 7 Principles of Public Life by an MHK ? The Seven Principles of Public Life form part of the Government Code which applies to Ministers, Department Members and Members of Statutory Board. https://www.gov.im/media/1359547/the-government-code-february-2017.pdf.

Q12. Who is responsible for administering those sanctions if an MHK breaches them? This is detailed in the Government Code https://www.gov.im/media/1359547/thegovernment-code-february-2017.pdf.

Q13 Have any sanctions been imposed on any person for allowing this event to take place? A practical refusal reason applies under s11(3)(a) of the Act as the Cabinet Office does not hold the information requested.

Q14 Did the MHK in question make any declaration in a register of interests / conflict of interest or any other way of providing public transparency? A practical refusal reason applies under s11(3)(a) of the Act as the Cabinet Office does not hold the information requested.

(Actually Q14 can be answered easily by looking at his register of interests, which mentions very little).

Now a lot of this is clearly disingenuous.  The work of setting up and clearing away after such an event would be done by the LG's staff or contractors[2] who are all paid for by the government[3].  But more important it raises the question of what Government House is for.  It's actually not used that much for official functions and very little for other sorts of events.  It's basically just very expensive sheltered housing for one couple.

 

[1]  Response is on the FoI Search filtered under Cabinet Office with Case ID 1021501 and a nice unambiguous Title of: Wedding - Garden of Government House-15 September 2018 (Malarkey) with date submitted 28/11/19.  As usual the servlet problem means I can't give a direct link.

[2]  I think Douglas BC have the contract to maintain the gardens.

[3]  According to the Government's websiteThe management of the functions of the Lieutenant Governor requires the dedicated services of a small team of administration and house staff. They are all Isle of Man public servants and members of the Crown and External Relations Directorate within the Cabinet Office. The Private Secretary is a Senior Executive Officer and is responsible leadership and management of all operational aspects of the household and who provides direct support to the Lieutenant Governor. The House Manager/Personal Assistant to HE and the Social Secretary handle all administrative matters, such as maintaining the Lieutenant Governor’s diary, assisting with correspondence, speeches, arranging the daily programme and handling the protocol associated with all official events. The House Manager, Chef, Butler/Chauffeur and Assistant Housekeepers look after the House, Kitchen, the Lieutenant Governor’s travel around the Island and ensure the efficient running of functions. Together casual staff, who supplement the team when required, there are a number of Honorary Aide-de-Camps (Honorary ADCs) who assist the Lieutenant Governor at official functions.  Which gives a staff of at least seven plus casuals and contractors.

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Piss poor judgement. What did he expect people to say? Begs the question, what else next.

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7 minutes ago, Grounds Keeper Willy said:

And yet only one of us referred to people who assert their democratic rights to make FOI requests as “sad petty tossers” 

Lol.  They are.

FOI is costing the tax payer a fortune dealing with completely unnecessary requests.  This one being the perfect case in point.

 

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Maybe a generous donation to govt. coffers or maybe a charity would have alleviated the criticism? Maybe.......but  I do think that most govt. folk are insensitive to the masses that they think they have left behind.

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3 minutes ago, Albert Tatlock said:

Piss poor judgement. What did he expect people to say? Begs the question, what else next.

Well presumably he expected them to say nothing, because he didn't expect it to be publicised - I don't think there were pictures in the papers.  After all this has taken a year to emerge and the person who asked didn't have the details right.  So either the media didn't know about it or made the decision not to publicise it.  Neither of which reflects well on them.

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4 minutes ago, MrPB said:

I think that’s right it’s poor judgement rather than potential costs. That said I don’t think the guy is well so you might want to put in a bit of a show. The governor seems to be a decent bloke so I’d take it at face value that he offered and the offer was taken up for what it was. Just a nice gesture. 

Yes it is poor judgement, unfortunately and sadly if Mr Malarkey is unwell, he can’t fulfill his remit to represent Douglas South or his COMIN role. He could if he desired, politely declined the offer and had his marriage ceremony at Douglas Register Office, and I’m sure as Home affairs Minister, he could obtain advice on marriage paperwork and procedures etc. He could have had a reception at the Sefton. 
John Houghton had many many faults, he eventually fell, if Malarkey isn’t careful this will happen to him.

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Sorry Rog but its you that's being disingenuous. You have no idea who cleared up etc and have simply assumed it was Gov't staff.

The FOI request is clearly from someone with an interest in Bungalow Bill as it was the second one. The first one asked;

Please send me:

A listing of all times that the Lieutenant Governor's Residence was used by individuals

and/or non-Government organisations in August, September or October 2018.

By "listing" I mean any calendar of events that summarise the listing of events in

September 2018;

By "Lieutenant Governor's Residence" I mean the property (including both the building

and associated land) located at Government House, Onchan, IM3 1RR;

By "used by individuals and/or non-Government organisations " I mean any events

that were conducted at the property where the primary event organiser (in the

common English understanding of the phrase) was not either the Lieutenant Governor

or a Government department

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3 minutes ago, doc.fixit said:

Maybe a generous donation to govt. coffers or maybe a charity would have alleviated the criticism? Maybe.......but  I do think that most govt. folk are insensitive to the masses that they think they have left behind.

You can all the skills in the world and qualifications but fcuk all common sense and empathy - how would this be perceived by others?

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3 minutes ago, piebaps said:

Sorry Rog but its you that's being disingenuous. You have no idea who cleared up etc and have simply assumed it was Gov't staff.

The FOI request is clearly from someone with an interest in Bungalow Bill as it was the second one. The first one asked;

Please send me:

A listing of all times that the Lieutenant Governor's Residence was used by individuals

and/or non-Government organisations in August, September or October 2018.

By "listing" I mean any calendar of events that summarise the listing of events in

September 2018;

By "Lieutenant Governor's Residence" I mean the property (including both the building

and associated land) located at Government House, Onchan, IM3 1RR;

By "used by individuals and/or non-Government organisations " I mean any events

that were conducted at the property where the primary event organiser (in the

common English understanding of the phrase) was not either the Lieutenant Governor

or a Government department

This.

FOI has just given a charter to bitter nutters to bombard government with requests.

One of the main perpetrators is sat on a fat tax payer funded pension isn't he?

The sort that'll be lurking around IoM new and politics page and here spewing the usual rambling cack.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, MrPB said:

That’s a bit unfair if it’s offered then equally it’s rude to decline. As I said poor judgement pretty much and little else I wouldn’t be castigating him for wanting a nice venue for his wedding or some nice pics as a record. 

Why not Douglas Registry Office? Or Ramsey Courthouse? 
There are plenty of places to hold a wedding reception, Sefton, Palace Hotel or Douglas Golf Club. After all by having his reception he helping to keep things ‘local’ and helping local businesses. Only saying .......

Personally I have nothing against the man, he is harmless, and compared to some other Tynpotwalders, is positively normal. Like I said, it’s perceived by others a matter of opinion.

Edited by 2112

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4 minutes ago, 2112 said:

Why not Douglas Registry Office? Or Ramsey Courthouse? 
There are plenty of places to hold a wedding reception, Sefton, Palace Hotel or Douglas Golf Club. After all by having his reception he helping to keep things ‘local’ and helping local businesses. Only saying .......

Local business will have been helped.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, The Dog's Dangly Bits said:

Local business will have been helped.

?????

Perhaps you can be more specific. There is nothing to say that we as taxpayers didn’t fund the reception within the confines of Government House? Or was food and drink brought in by outside catering to Government House? Perhaps the Copy Shop did the wedding invites?
Only saying............

Edited by 2112

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, gettafa said:

Liberal Vannin Party, clinging onto the coat tails of Peter Karran

I believe Peter will be using this song when he stands again.

 

Edited by Holte End

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