NHS England’s notorious gender identity service for children has been threatened with court action over ‘missing’ emails to the pro-trans organisation Mermaids.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the Tavistock clinic needs to look again, after it refused to release then denied holding email correspondence with Mermaids under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
Mermaids’ ‘governance and management’ is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission, after revelations the group had been sending chest binders to girls as young as 13 without their parents’ knowledge.
When a concerned parent placed an FOI request asking for details of emails between Mermaids and the Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service between 2014 and 2018, the Tavistock refused.
After the matter was referred to the ICO, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust claimed that after “an extensive search of emails” it “does not hold the requested information”.
The ICO said that “on the balance of probabilities” some information is held by the Trust, and ruled it “must conduct fresh searches into the requested information”.
The parent involved told The Daily Telegraph: “What concerns me is the way that NHS policy making can be influenced by a special interest group. There should be a clean break and the Tavistock should disclose whatever they have”.
“NHS trusts have a very powerful self-protective reflex, but the NHS has a duty of candour and that should be respected.”
The Tavistock has until 5 May to provide “a new response” deemed by the ICO to be “adequate” for the purposes of the FOI Act, or face being referred to the High Court.