Dear Northumbria Police,
How much tax payers money has been spent for whatever reasons on the Martin McGartland cases during the past 5 financial years
As regards the request above please supply a breakdown of monies spent and include what they were spent on
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
Thank you for your email dated 31 January 2012 in which you made a request
for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of
access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police),
subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
How much tax payers money has been spent for whatever reasons on the Martin
McGartland cases during the past 5 financial years.
As regards the request above please supply a breakdown of monies spent
and include what they were spent on.
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I
provide a response for your attention.
The Disclosure Section has received a large number of other requests from
several parties dating from September 2009 onwards, these all concern
operations involving the specific case of the shooting of Martin
McGartland. Many of these have correctly been classed as vexatious. A
large number of the requests have come through the same web-site and it
would appear that these requestors have been acting in concert due to the
similarity, frequency and nature of the requests submitted. It is relevant
to take into account the volume and frequency of submissions when
considering whether requests can fairly be regarded as obsessive in nature.
Many of the responses supplied by this department have subsequently been
followed up by further requests for information or requests for internal
reviews. Indeed you too have put further questions to Northumbria Police
through the same Freedom of Information request on this subject matter.
Section 14 - Freedom of Information Act 2000
Section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act does not oblige a public
authority to comply with a request for information if the request is deemed
Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for
information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with
a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person.
An authority is not obliged to deal with requests that are manifestly
unreasonable or obsessive. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
guidance on vexatious requests states “there is a risk that some
individuals and some organisations may seek to abuse these new rights with
requests which are manifestly unreasonable. Such cases may well arise in
connection with a grievance or complaint which an individual is pursuing
against an authority. While giving maximum support to individuals genuinely
seeking to exercise the right to know, the ICO’s general approach will be
sympathetic towards authorities where a request, which may be the latest in
a series of requests, would impose a significant burden and can otherwise
be characterised as obsessive or manifestly unreasonable". It is clear that
a Freedom of Information request is not the appropriate arena within which
to air a grievance or progress a campaign against Northumbria Police.
Further to this, ICO guidance states “A request may not be vexatious in
isolation, but when considered in context (for example if it is the latest
in a long series of overlapping requests or other correspondence) it may
form part of a wider pattern of behaviour that makes it vexatious”.
Clearly your request when taken in context with the many other requests
received on this subject is part of an ongoing campaign that can be fairly
called vexatious in nature. Please note that it is the subject of the
request that can be declared vexatious rather than the requestor and it is
therefore relevant to take into account all other requests received and
subsequent responses issued on this matter.
As it is believed that you are acting as part of a campaign group it is
entirely appropriate to take into account the requests made by other
members of that group on the same subject.
Via the What Do They Know web-site, it is apparent that several requests
have been made to a number of different public bodies on this subject.
These requests would all appear to be from people acting in concert in an
attempt to raise a grievance against Northumbria Police.
Your request is clearly part of this campaign and it is very probable that
you are acting in concert with the other parties who have also submitted
requests to various public bodies relating to the same subject.
It is in the public domain that the investigation into the shooting remains
live. Any requests received regarding this ongoing investigation can fairly
be seen as designed to disrupt the normal business process (the ongoing
investigation). Any release of information which is likely to be to the
detriment of the legal process must be resisted at this time.
In conclusion I am satisfied that your request is of a vexatious nature and
I therefore must advise you that further requests made under the Act, for
information relating to the incident in which Mr McGartland was shot and
any subsequent information relating to the investigation arising from the
incident, associated legal proceedings, and related matters will not be
acknowledged or responded to.
You should note that following this correspondence, we are not obliged to,
nor do we intend to, take any further steps in relation to this matter or
any further requests that you submit that are deemed to fall into the remit
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual
property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be
strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as
amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not
re-use this information for any commercial purpose.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have
handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue
informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our
complaints procedure which is attached.
(See attached file: FOI Complaint Rights.doc)
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and
reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain
whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.
Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor
Direct Dial: 01661 868347
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