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Chapter: 

Spinning the story

However the next day David Smith was again approached in the following terms:

"it has occurred to us that the ICO may not wish this release to stand out from the crowd - maybe it world (sic) be better to send the letter today and publish Wednesday or Thursday this week to 'bury' it amongst others?"

Some readers may recall a memorable firestorm just after 11th September 2001 concerning Jo Moore, disgraced former Special Adviser to Stephen Byers, then Minister for Transport and Local Government. A leak revealed that on the day of the terrorist attacks Moore had circulated an email suggesting:

"It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors' expenses?"

Kirsty McCaskill again wrote to Diane Slater and David Smith:

"Yes, we would ideally not want this to attract much publicity but as Privacy International is the complainant this is no easy task. No doubt they will issue their own response proactively as soon as they receive our letter. We will do our best to draft a news release asap this week and will co-ordinate timings so that the letter hits Privacy International at the same time as sending out our news release. Will do our best to try to pick a day when it looks like a busy news day out there but - as you'll appreciate - this is difficult to predict."

Again, the clear message is "let's bury the story".

We might have expected that such behaviour would spark the ire of senior management, along with some form of disciplinary action. However the ICO's Head of Strategic Liaison, Jonathan Bamford responded to ICO staff with the following advice:

"On a general point of caution I think it is possible that we will get FOIA requests for our deliberations on this issue… I think we should all bear that in mind when deciding on the language we use in our email traffic…"

We would have very much liked to see the correspondence that directly relates to the ICO's "investigation" of Internet Eyes, but that correspondence has been withheld.