back to article Tribunal: ICO was wrong to bin angry man's FOI request

The UK's freedom of information (FOI) law watchdog was wrong to rule that an FOI request was vexatious, the Information Rights Tribunal – formerly the Information Tribunal – has ruled. The request had a "clear purpose and value" and was not "manifestly unreasonable", the Tribunal said. The Information Commissioner's Office ( …


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  1. Thomas 18

    Good stuff

    Nice to see somone slapping down a city council. Now lets talk compensation. How about they have to grant the next 50 FOI requests without question.

    1. Qtoktok

      yeah, that's a great idea

      And what if one of those 50 is for social work case files? Or the entirety of a member of staff's file (including details of unfounded disciplinary actions and sickness)? Or you get someone who is making genuinely vexatious requests? And before you start with more ill-informed bleating, people really do make requests that are that stupid.

      Thinking before you comment. Try it sometime.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon



        And how long have you lived here exactly? It was hardly a serious request.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Green ink

    The applicant was probably one of a the rabid green inkers that bombard local authorities with endless FOI requests.

    Vexatious decisions can take into account all other contact with an authority not just the request in question.

    Some people see FOI a a full time job to ask anything and everything.

    I doubt Mr Gardiner is considering the cost to the tax payer in answering his many requests.

    FOI is a good thing and local and central Gov does need to be accountable but a few individuals take the legislation to an extreme and can cause a significant amount of disruption and cost which impacts on the whole community.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Did you bother to read the report?

      Do you work for a council by any chance?

      If you had you'd realise that the applicant has been treated poorly by the council and had been attempting to resolve a long ongoing situation - the FOI request was part of that.

      If the applicant had been bombarding the local authority then it's very unlikely that the appeal would have been upheld.

      The FOI act can be abused but but there's no indication that the person involved here has abused the process, if anything he has been abused by the council and failed by the ICO.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I think

      I think on reading the article and background information, he bombarded them with around "2" requests over a period of about 9 years.

  3. andy 45

    re: Green ink

    AC, From what I can see, your accusations are completely unfounded and are entirely based upon assumption.

    The tribunal ruled the request was not vexatious and that Mr Gardiner had not contacted the council enough to be considered vexatious, so why are you still implying that he's a wrong'un and he's costing the taxpayer too much money?

    As far as I remember there is a (small) fee for FOI requests to cover admin. Maybe Nottingham council should have played by the rules and saved the taxpayer some money in legal fees.

    Good on you Mr Gardiner for sticking it to the man!

    1. mordac

      re: Green Ink

      There's a fee for DPA subject requests. I don't think there's any fee for FOI requests.

      The AC posting sounds a little bit as though it might come from someone with inside knowledge on the case.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "The AC posting sounds a little bit as though it might come from someone with inside knowledge on the case."

        Again with the assumptions and subtle mud-slinging.

        The tribunal ruled that the bloke was not vexatious and I imagine they had more "inside knowledge" of the case than an AC posting here on El Reg.

  4. C-N

    But! but!

    We can't show him the files! If we did that, he'd have all the evidence he needs to prove how badly we've treated him. Whereas if you let us keep them secret, we can continue to maintain that we've done nothing wrong, and he's just a grief-er.

  5. andy 45

    @Mordac - re: Green Ink

    yeh, or perhaps someone trying to tarnish Mr Gardiner's good name -- someone on the inside with a grudge perhaps...

  6. Maty

    The request was denied ...

    Because it was a 'transparent attempt to gain evidence ...which could be used to prove discrimination'.

    This is no reason to deny the request.

    If such evidence exists and if it does prove discrimination, then it should be revealed. If the evidence proves that there was no discrimination, why not reveal it?

    This story gives the impression that someone is very keen to hide incriminating facts.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like

    they'd taken against him in the past, marked his card, and decided to punish him by refusing to meet their legal responsibilities towards him. Perhaps they think *any* council tenants using FOI legislation are 'getting ideas above their station'?

  8. Mark 127

    NCH at thier worst..... YET AGAIN!

    NCH are well known locally here, to by utterly incompetent, and unmoving in many cases, in which residents raise.

    A quick look on the this is Nottingham (Nottingham Evening Post) website for Nottingham City Homes, will yield all the cannon fodder needed.

    Also, as NCH is classified as a Housing Association, it has NOTHING to do with EITHER Notts City or County Councils.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I was working for Nottingham City Council when NCH was set up - it was set up as an ALMO - Arms Length Management Organisation

      Set up after a ballot of residents with severely biased questions, providing nice little pay rises for the managers and failing to government standards in it's first year and thus not getting the grants needed to do the work it had promised in the "rigged" ballot.

  9. Sam Therapy

    As I have said before...

    Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council don't even acknowledge they received a FOI or Subject Access Request.

    Oh well, it's one more thing on the list of stuff they're about to get hit for.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      @ Sam Therapy

      I just left Rotherham after many years for a different part of the country. My new council are as different from that bunch of utter dribbling incompetents in RMBC as could be possible. I had forgotten that council employees could actually be pleasant, helpful and do what they are supposed to.

      Good luck to you in your action - stick it to them hard, and make them realise that they are part of the bigger world.

  10. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Hiding behind FOI

    FOI rules state that private organisations performing duties under contract for, or on behalf of govt authorities, or acting as a regulator in their own right (eg ASA, ICSTIS, etc) are subject to the FOI, as long as the secretary of state issues a determination confirming this.

    It is _VERY_ hard to get determinations (although the ICO tell me they are very keen to break the back of this problem) and using private contracts is widely seen among local govt as a way of avoiding FOI scrutiny.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sam Therapy

    Except there is no legal requirement to acknowledge DP or FOI request, only to respond within the statutory time frame.

    Granted its poor practice if they don't acknowledge receipt but legally they don't have to.

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