A letter reportedly written by the former Minister for Health, the Hon. David Ashford MBE MHK, alleges that the Isle of Man Government is destroying electronic documentation on an on-going and previously-unrevealed basis. The letter was allegedly written to the tribunal considering the unfair dismissal of Dr Rosalind Ranson, and published by Gef the Mongoose, a website owned and operated by Tindle Newspapers Ltd, which also publishes the Isle of Man newspapers, the Courier, Examiner and Independent.
In the letter, Mr Ashford said in part:
“As I stated under oath during my evidence the government e-mail system limits the size of e-mail (to 2.2gb) after which messages have to be deleted or archived. As an example in 2020 I received 28,000 e-mails and sent 13,000 and in 2021 I received 29,000 e-mails and sent 15,000, so over 85,000 e-mails sent and received over the two year period. Wherever possible I seek to archive messages but it is not a fool proof (sic) process and that message is one of a number from around that time that are not appearing in the archive and so would not show up in any search for the disclosure as it was not in my possession or on my system at the time disclosure was requested.”
“Mr Ashford appears to be alleging that the Isle of Man Government email system has deleted an unknown number of emails – records which might other otherwise have been disclosed in this or other legally-mandated circumstances. The Isle of Man Government needs to immediately investigate the extent of this document destruction, and take immediate steps to stop the further destruction of Government documents,” said Michael Josem of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance.
“While citizens have a right to privacy, the Government has an obligation to provide transparency. The allegations by Mr Ashford that the Government email system is routinely deleting emails needs urgent investigation and remedial action if his allegations are substantiated,” said Josem.
Consequently, the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance has written to the Isle of Man Information Commissioner asking for an investigation into:
- the extent of the Isle of Man Government’s deletion and destruction of Government documents, specifically emails; and
- the possible breaches of record-keeping requirements, including but not limited to, the Freedom of Information Act and other internal Government codes of practice for record-keeping.
- Professional email products commonly provide email storage facilities for hundreds or thousands of gigabytes – well above the 2.2 gigabytes that Mr Ashford claims is the Isle of Man Government limit. Such providers include Google, Microsoft, and others.
- In November 2020, prior to the establishment of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance, Michael Josem, exposed the Department of Health and Social Care destroying a letter written by a DHSC employee, to the DHSC Minister, about DHSC matters, and transported to a DHSC property.
2 September 2022 Update: Corrected the headline from “Minister Ashford” to “Former Minister Ashford”