Sussex Police are in breach of the Freedom of Information Act following a complaint made to the ICO by FYP. Here's a summary of what has happened so far.
Back in November 2017, Crystal Palace fans were falsely accused of carrying knives and knuckledusters into the American Express Stadium. While Sussex Police apologised, they didn't explain how this false allegation had come into the public domain.
They also failed to explain why Detective Inspector Simon Nelson had said on Twitter that weapons had been found or why they had alleged Palace fans had tried to get in without tickets. In December, we made various FOIA requests to find out how they had come to make such false public statements.
In February, they refused to disclose any information on public interest grounds. We objected immediately and sent an extensive letter on 27 February 2018 detailing why they are wrong not to have admitted what happened.
Sussex Police are obliged to reply to this letter but didn't. We told Sussex Police on 5 June 2018 that if they didn't respond within a week we would report them to the Information Commissioners Office. They ignored us.
On the 22nd of June 2018, we made a complaint to the ICO about Sussex Police's ongoing refusal to admit why they and DI Nelson made false public statements.
This was the letter we sent Sussex Police to put them on notice about our complaint to the ICO.
Following our complaints to the ICO, three separate investigations were opened into the Sussex Police by the ICO.
These investigations relate to the Sussex Police's failure to respond to certain elements of our information requests and their failure to provide a proper review of those requests where they had refused disclosure on public interest grounds.
The ICO has now issued a decision notice against the Sussex Police for their failure to respond.
The Decision Notice which is now public has found that the Sussex Police have breached FOIA in failing to answer the following four information requests.
Sussex Police now have 35 days to respond to this request of they will be in contempt of court, which may result in a fine or imprisonment of a responsible senior officer.
The remaining two investigations will be followed up in kind.
We have included the entirety of the ICO Decision Notice below: