Building work on Cowes Enterprise College, as pictured above, was blighted by delays. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
THE Isle of Wight Council has refused to disclose how much it paid to two council officers, cleared this month of any wrongdoing over the Cowes Enterprise College debacle.
Janet Newton, former deputy director for schools and education services, and John Brocklehurst, an officer involved in the project, were exonerated by the authority following an eight-month internal investigation into delays to the project.
The Isle of Wight Council today (Wednesday) rejected a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Isle of Wight County Press, which asked how much the officers had been paid by way of a settlement.
The council claimed the figure was confidential.
Principal lawyer Justin Thorne said the council considered the information to be exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act.
"The council considers details of the settlement agreements are the personal data of each of the individuals who entered into such an agreement. The council acknowledges there is no confidentiality (gagging) clause within the agreement.
"However, irrespective of whether there was a gagging clause, the council must assess whether the individual would have had a reasonable expectation that the terms on which their employment came to an end would be treated as confidential," he said.
"In these circumstances there was no reasonable expectation of the individuals concerned that these details would be made public and released in response to such a request. The data subjects have made clear representations, with which the council agrees, that the disclosure would be unfair to them.
"To release this personal data would therefore be unfair and in breach of the first data protection principle which states personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully."
The County Press has lodged an appeal against the refusal, arguing it is in the public interest to know how much Mrs Newton and Mr Brocklehurst were paid out of the public purse, given construction of the new £32m school building was delayed by a year and no-one has been held accountable.