Section 77 of the FOIA is I believe only one of two areas of the act that if breached may result in a criminal offence occurring. The explanatory notes in the act on s77 state.
Section 77: Offence of altering etc. records with intent to prevent disclosure
234.This section makes it an offence to alter, deface, block, erase, destroy or conceal records held by a public authority with the intention of preventing its disclosure to an applicant who has made a request for the information and is entitled to receive it. The offence applies to the public authority and anyone who is employed by, is an officer of, or is subject to the direction of, the public authority. A person found guilty of the offence is liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5000). The offence cannot be committed by a government department but can be committed by civil servants.
A request was made to a public body in January 2015 for a copy of the notes of a public meeting, because the complainant believed certain procedures were unlawful and informed the PB that they requested a copy of the clerk's notes and informing them as to why which was to make a complaint. A separate Government Department in writing commented that procedures were indeed flawed before even receiving the full complaint which they still await.
The PB resisted supply from the request. They further resisted after Internal review to supply citing that the requester had no right to recorded notes of their clerk. The act appears to say otherwise. The ICO then got involved after a complaint and began communicating with the PB. The PB then informed the complainant that they had destroyed the information the requester was seeking. The requester complained to the ICO citing s77 breaching. The ICO contacted the PB. The PB said we always destroy our clerks notes as a matter of a 'course of normal business'. Complainant states request was made well before the 'normal course of business' was enacted. A senior policy maker at the ICO has agreed with the PB. Complainant stated that if his judgement is lawful, a whole host of material could be destroyed after a request is made based on a PB own internal view of what 'a normal course of business' means.
Problem for requester is that the ICO police themselves and are very reluctant to pursue section 77 breaches.
Any thoughts from the good people of this site how to pursue or is it best to leave the perceived injustice alone?