March 27, 2016 5:59 pm
Updated: March 27, 2016 6:02 pm

UBC release of uncensored information an ‘honest mistake’: report

The release of uncensored details about the departure of a former University of British Columbia president was an honest mistake, says a new report.


VANCOUVER – The release of uncensored details about the departure of a former University of British Columbia president was an honest mistake, says a new report.

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Former B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis reviewed the university’s conduct and policies after hidden attachments containing uncensored personal details about Arvind Gupta’s abrupt resignation were released to the public in January.

The review determined that the attachments were left in because a step was missed when the documents were processed.

“The incident occurred because of a simple mistake,” the report said.

“The disclosure was an accidental result of UBC’s good-faith attempt to be open and transparent.”

The report noted that the university has made changes in the wake of the incident on how it releases information, including implementing a checklist for access to information requests, revamping how embedded information is removed from documents and requiring a second staff member to check releases containing sensitive information.

Extended interview: Ex-UBC president Gupta talks about his departure

Loukidelis recommended the school take extra care when preparing documents to be released online and look at whether additional resources are needed in the department that handles access to information requests.

The university responded to the report with a statement saying they accept the findings and have passed the report on to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for review.

The statement also said the school will devote more staff resources to handle access to information requests.

UBC released 861 pages of documents in response to a series of Access to Information requests after Gupta abruptly relinquished his post last August.

Included were meeting agendas, receipts, emails and an agreement dated Aug. 6, 2015 that shows UBC agreed to top-up Gupta’s $446,750 salary until Jan. 31, 2016, and that he would be given a year’s leave of absence from Feb. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2017, plus a $130,000 research grant.

Also included were emails showing UBC board of governors chair John Montalbano wanted to have a “confidential discussion, not captured on email” with Gupta just days before board members received notice about a meeting where they would discuss the president’s resignation.

Montalbano himself stepped down last October after an investigation into a professor’s claims that she was intimidated after writing a blog post suggesting Gupta lost a “masculinity contest” with the school’s leadership.

But the documents did not reveal why Gupta left the position one year into a five year term.

The former president said in a statement that the documents were a “one-sided representation” of what happened in the months before he left.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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