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Privacy laws stop European Council from releasing information on Gayle Kimberley

Transparency group demands access to personal files for former EU Council lawyer turned lobbyist

miriam
Miriam Dalli
15 July 2013, 12:00am
Kimberley (centre) was a Swedish Match lobbyist who brokered a meeting with John Dalli (left) through his canvasser Silvio Zammit.
Kimberley (centre) was a Swedish Match lobbyist who brokered a meeting with John Dalli (left) through his canvasser Silvio Zammit.


The European Council has turned down a request to publish information pertaining to lawyer Gayle Kimberley's job titles at the Council's legal service, including correspondence relating to the authorisation of the roles she served.

The information was not made available after Kimberley - a former member of the Council's legal services - "explicitly objected to the transfer of any of her personal data to recipients other than community institutions and bodies".

The original request was filed by Rachel Tansey, a lobbycracy campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory - a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.

Tansey's request called on the European Council to publish copies of applications that Kimberley made under Article 16 of the Staff Regulations to undertake a new professional activity and all correspondence, including emails, relating to the authorisation of the roles.

It is understood that Tansey's interest was in the "screening for potential conflicts of interests when employing new officials or when officials apply for post-employment activities".

Kimberley spent six years (between 2004 and 2011) working at the European Council's legal services in Brussels, where at one point she handled European enlargement policy.

In its reply, the General Secretariat refused public access to the requested documents due to privacy laws.

"The Council has consulted Ms Kimberley, who explicitly objected to the transfer of any of her personal data to recipients other than community institutions and bodies," the Council said in its reply.

"After careful consideration, the council does not consider that such interests prevail over the interest in the protection of Ms Kimberley's privacy and integrity."

It however identified a number of documents on Kimberley's personal dossier, which included five notes to the attention of Kimberley on appointments to posts within the Legal Service, three requests for leave on personal grounds, three decisions granting leave on personal grounds, a note to the file on granting the first leave on personal grounds, a letter to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two letters from the General Secretariat of the Council and an email from the General Secretariat of the Council.

Kimberley was paid €5,000 by Swedish Match to provide them with access to former EU commissioner John Dalli.

But as the story unravelled, it emerged that Kimberley had worked with a former EC official, today a lobbyist for Swedish Match, Johan Gabrielsson, which could explain further the chain of communication that led to a meeting with Dalli.

It was during this time that Gabrielsson, an official with the European Commission, was also employed within the Commission's Directorate-General for EU Enlargement (a separate institution from the Council), where both he and Kimberley were to some extent involved in inter-institutional work on EU enlargement policy.

During these six years, Kimberley held four different roles within the Council's legal service, starting off within the lawyer's division, she moved on to handling enlargement policy and then social affairs, energy, research and telecommunications. She served her last role - between February 2009 and 31 December 2010 - covering institutional questions and budget and staff regulations.
miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...