Executive office

Jt Oakley made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

1. Could you tell me the function of the executive office ( as per diagram of executive office in relation to posts already provided)?

2. And provide a 'Family Tree' chart for areas of responsibility.

3. If names of post holders are available then could they also be supplied - so that correspondence can be sent to the correct person. If they are secret, then the 'family tree diagram' linked to chef officers will be sufficient.

Clearly, as a quasi-legal organisation, and, as executive office personnel are deciding on which documents on complex cases are received by chief officers, executive office personnel will have the legal training to understand the complexity of referred cases before deciding to close them down by preventing access to chief officers.

4. Could you also therefore confirm that current post holders are all legally trained?

5. Could you please also supply me with the advertised job descriptions ( internal or external) of executive office post holders?

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Jt Oakley

Your information request (FDN-175710)

I write further to your email of 15 October 2013. In your email you set out a number of information requests that I will address in turn.

1. ‘Could you tell me the function of the executive office ( as per diagram of executive office in relation to posts already provided)?’

Executive Office provides secretariat and administrative support to Dame Julie Mellor and Helen Hughes. These roles are not directly involved in casework and the staff in the Executive Office Team do not make casework decisions. The Ombudsman’s Casework team are responsible for managing the casework requiring Dame Julie or Helen Hughes’ input and they review correspondence about specific cases addressed to Dame Julie or Helen Hughes.

2. ‘And provide a 'Family Tree' chart for areas of responsibility.’

Attached to this email is a family tree of all the posts in the Executive Office.

3. ‘If names of post holders are available then could they also be supplied - so that correspondence can be sent to the correct person. If they are secret, then the 'family tree diagram' linked to chief officers will be sufficient.’

Sue Thomson is the Head of the Executive Office. I am unable to provide the names of the more junior members of staff as this constitutes their personal information. I am withholding this information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The names I am withholding are not senior or customer facing roles. As you are clearly interested in the team who considers correspondence from the general public in relation to specific cases, the Ombudsman’s Casework Manager is Sarah Fox.

4. ‘Clearly, as a quasi-legal organisation, and, as executive office personnel are deciding on which documents on complex cases are received by chief officers, executive office personnel will have the legal training to understand the complexity of referred cases before deciding to close them down by preventing access to chief officers. Could you also therefore confirm that current post holders are all legally trained?’

First, I should clarify that PHSO is not a quasi-legal organisation. PHSO is a lay led organisation. One of the individuals who works within the Executive Office has a law degree but does not hold a legal practitioner qualification. As you can see from the job descriptions attached, a legal qualification is not required for any of the posts in the Executive Office. We have an internal legal team who provide legal advice when required. The Legal Adviser and Assistant Legal Adviser roles are the only roles in PHSO where the posts require qualified lawyers.

5. Could you please also supply me with the advertised job descriptions ( internal or external) of executive office post holders?

Attached to this email are the job descriptions of all the roles who sit in the executive office.

If you are unhappy with my decision to withhold information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you can request a review of my handling of your request by writing to the Review Team at: [email address]

If you remain dissatisfied it is open to you to approach the Information Commissioner’s Office. Details of how to do so can be found on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Claire Helm
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK Government quality mark initiative for information security products and services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for your effort to answer this request.

However, I take it that you are not familiar with the ICO's judgement on the provision of information about workplace contact - including the provision of information about non public-facing employees?

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

So please could you re- consider the provision of this information in the light of this Decision.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

You have specified the role of casework manager, yet the post does not appear on the chart enclosed.

Is there another accompanying chart missing?

I would be particularly interested to see the job description of this post.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

You state:

Sue Thomson is the Head of the Executive Office. I am unable to provide the names of the more junior members of staff as this constitutes their personal information. I am withholding this information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000

These are just some of the PHSO staff online, whose information is easily obtainable.

Since they almost all mention their jobs at the PHSO ...are you seriously stating that their privacy is at stake under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 by withholding their job titles?

[Personal information removed - see annotation]

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Thank you for that Janet.

Amazingly I had a letter yesterday which is signed by the Dame! As I don’t know her signature I don’t know if it is her or not. It’s one and a half pages long.

I don’t know who wrote the letter, if it was the Dame or not but there are errors in it. She tell me she is sorry about the circumstances of my son’s death. (Not sorry enough to do anything about it)

That they have not served me well….an apology for that. And an apology again for the ‘inadequate service you have received’, but she can’t turn the clock back!!!!!!!

It would seem PHOS have made a draft report which will be sent to the authority in the next few days (not sure which authority) but I am not allowed the same courtesy!
I think that breaks the Equality Act 2010.

So I think I should send my response to S. Beazley, in case it was she who wrote the letter for DJ and after having looked at his ‘Link in’, I’ll send it to Mike Bird as well. Thank Janet.

Della left an annotation ()

Thank you Janet. I have looked them all up and can now see the faces of the people who are ignoring me. I am due to write my complaint letter soon - who did you write to Brenda to get your (near) apology from the Dame?

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Great FOI request Jan. Again - we have to push and push before we get a half transparent answer.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The above are just a sample of employees that can be found on the Internet within an hour or so. There are loads more ..

The argument is that if people are quite happy for thousands of people to read about them - and contact them - why aren't they happy to let those with justifiable case know which job they are in when dealing with our cases? Who to ring if you want to ask a question.

Still, it's a good sign in that Dame Julie seems to have at last realised that if the Queen can do it......then maybe she ought to get a feel for what her subjects think and feel.

And maybe the PHSO will at last, step into this century instead of lying in a huge heap of its own importance, thinking its still 1983.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Brenda .....If it's a misspelt letter, it may be Sarah Fox that has drafted it.

I've seen some of her 'stuff' on file, written about me

But, you never know, the executive office may be full of people who have difficulty in communicating.

The executive office has the same reputation internally as it has amongst us.

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

Links to social media profiles of individuals have been removed from an outgoing message above.

The linked profiles did not, so far as I have been able to ascertain, mention the individuals were staff members of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

--

Richard - WhatDoTheyKnow.com volunteer

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The Law Society is social media?

And the ICO judgement mentions LinkedIn..when the Decision was made.

'In this case the DfT referred to the data subject having ‘reluctantly’ agreed to the disclosure of his name. Whilst this may suggest that the data subject prefers to maintain a high degree of privacy about his occupation, the Commissioner notes that details of the occupation of this individual are publicly available to view on the website LinkedIn. Given this, and given that knowledge that an individual works as an official within the DfT would not generally be considered sensitive, the Commissioner does not accept that there is any unusually high expectation of privacy held by the data subject in relation to their occupation.'

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thanks CA.

It's just the ridiculousness if withholding their phone numbers ..when they are at work...while anyone can send them a message by Googling their name.

If the PHSO isn't businesslike by opening up the lines of communication between the paying public and it's officers, then people will find other ways to contact them...simply because they can.

It rather assumes that it's employees will fall down in a heap if anxiety if someone wants to speak to the casehandler and wants to phones them.

But these employees expose and advertise themselves to millions and most have degrees. Therefore they are not unable to conduct themselves in a businesslike manner by telephone towards complainants.... As the ICO Decision states.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Richard, why are you suddenly editing annotations? Has anyone made a complaint to WDTK

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

You ask who I wrote to. Over the 4.5 years since my son’s untimely death, I think I may have written to most of them at PHOS.

After writing 3 private and personal letters to DJ about 9 months ago and not getting a response, I wrote and said I didn’t like rudeness and I didn’t want to hear from her at all. Now I get a letter purporting to be signed by her, I don’t know if it is. No point in asking…..

ICAS helped me with 6 complaints about my local hospital and 3 about mental health. We were told we could bring them altogether. But the ICAS letter is noted by Mr Cook as ‘unhelpful’ Mr Cook then decided that mental health part of the complaint was out of time, (they could have used discretion), or told us that to start with. Poor hospital discharge procedure was up held although Mr Cook could see nothing wrong with it. The hospital was made to apologies or Mr Cook would investigate. Thus I had a meaningless apology.

I asked why Mr Brown’s review up help Mr Cook’s assessment of my case, no answer. I then found two more complaints I could bring, that of no ‘safeguarding vulnerable adults’ referral for a vulnerable young man. Not accepted. Nine months delay in applying for a CHC from the time of stating the assessment, not accepted. A CHC panel meeting was held and deferred, and later held again after Andrew had died. It was then up held and backed dated, which wasn’t a lot of good to him then! Not up held. And then I complained about the District Nurse Service. This time LGO were involved and there is an ongoing joint enquiry.

LGO have in an interim report found 7 administrative faults in S. Services, we will see if they keep to this.

I wrote asking why I have not had the result of a review by Mr Comber last June. No response.

There is much more, Andrew’s case is very complicated. So, no answers but an apology of sorts which has only made me more determined to find the answers. I don’t why she, if it is she, has written to me now. It has only upset me even more, if that is possible.

I wonder if this will be taken down by Richard.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

He's removed it on the grounds that it is personal information.

It has a logic..except for those who advertise their personal wares on LinkedIn, which were also removed. So that runs contrary to the ICO judgement. There are loads if PHSO employees on it.

The fact is that I can google the name of a PHSO employee and find out what they look like, who their friends are, where they went on holiday, see pictures if their families, their education, past jobs etc etc... But I can't know what their phone number is to discuss my case, or to whom they are responsible - if I want to ask for further guidance.

The Data Protection Act was written before the advent of Twitter, Facebook etc and it didn't seem to anticipate that people would voluntarily put this sort of information into public view.

It still protects people who want to retain their privacy... by keeping their information off the Internet.

But, as the ICO judgement points out, if the individuals personal information is voluntarily available to millions, there can be no expectation of privacy.

Della left an annotation ()

Ah Brenda, a familiar tale of stonewalling and denying the evidence. I wrote to Andy Comber pointing out all the discrepancies between his review analysis and the statements in the policy documents. No answer. Then I wrote to Suzannah Beazley to ask why Mr. Comber hadn't replied. No answer. Then I wrote to Nicki Smith to put in a complaint. No answer. This is a pathetic way to run an organisation and makes them look weak. If they think we will give up and go away they are wrong. The more they act like the indifferent parent the more we become attention seeking children, breaking all the rules. Now they have set the prefect onto us. What a game!

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

Just a thought, could it be that the lack of response from these individuals
could signify that they no longer work for the phso?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Well if they have any sense...

...They have already signed up to LinkedIn in the hope of getting a better job.

Especially since there are apparently tremendous cost-savings mooted for centralising all the Ombudsmen into one multi-functioning organisation.

This is a view which seems to comply with Oliver Letwin's (and apparently endorsed by the chairman of PASC Complaints Committee) .

http://www.conservativehome.com/platform...

Dear foiofficer,

Still waiting for information on:

1.the line of responsibility within this office. Surely one must exist?

2 Who works in which post

3. Phone extension numbers ( see ICO judgement)

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

2 Attachments

Dear Jt Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN 178251)

 

The Ombudsman’s Casework Manager is not part of the Executive Office and
that is why she does not appear in the chart.  You can see where the
Ombudsman’s Casework Team currently sit in the organisation in the
attached chart.  We do not hold a family tree for this team.  The team
currently consists of three positions, the Ombudsman’s Casework Manager,
the Assistant Ombudsman’s Casework Manager and an Executive Assistant.

 

As I explained Sarah Fox is the current Ombudsman’s Casework Manager.  I
have attached the job description for your information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Claire Helm

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [1][email address]

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you.

Especially for the job description.

But are you sure it's up to date?

I've read it twice ....but I can't see any reference to having an inability to listen to what complainants are saying and therefore writing incorrect notes about the complainant on file.

And the post controls the work of the external reviewers.....No wonder the PHSO cannot seem to investigate a complaint about the holder if this post.

I'd like to know all about the 'private office'.. Who funds it and why isn't it on the chart? Is the post directly responsible to the Ombudsman..ie Dame Julie is the line manager?

Who appoints this post holder? And does this post holder have any say in the 'hiring and firing ' of external reviewers?

::::

And thanks for the 'Family Tree' ....but the posts don't seem to be filled? So where is the information (as per the ICO decision) and the government's call for transparency and openness?

Is this secrecy because the Ombudsman is not responsible to government, or therefore not have to comply with ICO Decisions?

C Rock left an annotation ()

Especially for the job description...

I note that no qualifications are stipulated or tangible standards to be met then? No requirement to know e.g. as specialisms one of: law; DOH regs; drug administration and controls; medical procedures; latest 'initiatives' to reduce mistakes; NHC complaint requirements; etc.?

They have already proved deficient in referral of these matters purely because they aren't picked up as problems by the unqualified 'assessor'.

I don't see how new recruits will help in that process if they have to learn on the job in an already failing process.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Yes, it's a poor system but then the caseworker pay is quite low because the cases are complex.

Really they should have less of a top-heavy management..

Perhaps the HR director of People and Talent .( ...yes really, I'm not making it up ) could concentrate on better specialism training and recruitment for the investigators and paying them more.

Then chopping away at the top, which seem to be the ones with 'Arrogance R-Us' posters on their office walls.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

And you can't complain against the Casework Manager either because, according to this, the post is responsible for:

• effective management of the work of the External Reviewers and other contracted staff who undertake specialist complex casework for the Ombudsman;

If you complain..the complaint is sent to an external reviewer.

No wonder the PHSO is arrogant.

Not monitored by elected representatives

Complaints are handled by employees responsible to those complained about and investigators responsible to them

If an investigator makes a mistake during an investigation - as there is no need to give an logical explanation as to why a judgement has been reached , complainants will not get to know of botched investigations, unless they pursue it via FoI and DPA.
So liilt hope fair reinvestigations.

Logically, how can this organisation hold others to account being this biased at handling its own complaints? It should be an example.

Della left an annotation ()

Exactly J.T. Oakley. PHSO should lead by example.

Jones Hannah, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PROTECT

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

I am writing in response to your email of 12 November 2013. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request about the Executive Office.

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to the Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve Brown.

Mr Steve Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review that we will undertake.

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

Yours sincerely

Hannah Jones
Review Team Support Manager
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
T: 0300 061 4076
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK Government quality mark initiative for information security products and services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

'First, I should clarify that PHSO is not a quasi-legal organisation....'

Accepted..... The PHSO therefore must be an illegal organisation.

Tsk.

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PROTECT

By email
Ms Janet [first name redacted] Oakley

16 December 2013

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Your information request (FDN-178734)

Further to your email of 18 November 2013, I am writing in response to your information request. In your email you wrote:

‘Still waiting for information on:

1.the line of responsibility within this office. Surely one must exist?

2 Who works in which post

3. Phone extension numbers (see ICO judgement)

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

I will respond to each of your questions in turn.

First, you have already been provided with all the organisational charts that we hold, as well as a copy of the Ombudsman’s delegation scheme (which shows how the Ombudsman assigns responsibilities to different members of staff) and the names of all posts within the organisation and their pay bands. We have provided you with the names of senior members of staff, but have withheld the names of some more junior members of staff as third party personal information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). These decisions were upheld when we looked again at our handling of your information requests at internal review stage.

Some of our previous responses can be viewed online at:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

We have concluded that this request has already been responded to. It is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner about our handling of these requests, and details of how to do this are provided at the end of this letter. As you have made repeated requests for this information, we have considered the application of section 14(2) FOIA, which relates to repeated requests. I have reviewed our previous responses to you on this matter and am satisfied that we have already provided you with all the information to which you are entitled in relation to this request. I should make you aware that if you make further requests for this information, we may not respond with a decision notice.

We have also considered whether s14(1), the part of the exemption which applies to ‘vexatious’ requests, also applies to your request for the telephone numbers of everyone in our organisation. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance on this part of the exemption is available online at: http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

The ICO asks public authorities to consider whether the request is likely to cause ‘a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress’. The ICO also asks public authorities to weigh up the serious purpose of a request; the requester’s aims and legitimate motivation; and the wider public interest and objective value in complying with a request carefully against the detrimental impact on the public authority and any evidence that the requester is abusing the right of access to information.

In this case, we have concluded that placing the telephone numbers of every member of staff at PHSO in the public domain could potentially cause significant levels of disruption to the organisation. We are aware that names of staff members obtained through a previous FOI request have been placed on the website ‘phsothefacts’, where individuals have been encouraged to further their campaign by contacting a range of staff directly. We are concerned that the release of a complete list of telephone numbers could be used in a similar way.

We do not feel that, in this case, the risk to PHSO being able to deliver its service effectively is outweighed by the balance of public interest in the release of the information requested. This is because the PHSO helpline can be contacted via the following number: 0345 015 4033. In addition, all members of staff can also be contacted by members of the public using the PHSO postal address and every individual using the PHSO service is given the contact details for their own specific caseworker or other point of contact.

There is no significant public interest in providing telephone numbers for every member of staff within the organisation (including those operating in internally-facing roles) where alternative and more appropriate routes of communication exist. In addition, we feel that the public interest instead weighs in ensuring that PHSO is best able to deliver its service without the unwarranted disruption that could be caused by the misuse of information provided under Freedom of Information legislation.

While we have made every effort to respond comprehensively to the number of information requests you have submitted over the past year, and are reluctant to apply this exemption, I hope that you can understand why we have decided that it is not in the public interest to meet your request on this occasion.

If you are unhappy with my decision not to give you all the information you requested, you can ask for a review by emailing: [email address]

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to look into your case. Their contact details are available on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Aimee Gasston
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

You state:

1.' In this case, we have concluded that placing the telephone numbers of every member of staff at PHSO in the public domain could potentially cause significant levels of disruption to the organisation'.

* Incorrect....The request refers to the executive office.
There is a clue in the title of it.

You also seem to be stating that providing me or two or three executive office phone numbers could cause significant levels of disruption to the organisation.

I can only assume that you estimate that there must be thousands of complainants who would immediately use these numbers as a some kind of harassment to the staff concerned.

I am therefore somewhat surprised at your low opinion of those who appeal to the PHSO for help - especially with what can be complex and difficult NHS cases - as unduly disruptive to the smooth running of your organisation, which currently has such a low successful case rate.

2. You state:

'There is no significant public interest in providing telephone numbers for every member of staff within the organisation (including those operating in internally-facing roles) where alternative and more appropriate routes of communication exist. In addition, we feel that the public interest instead weighs in ensuring that PHSO is best able to deliver its service without the unwarranted disruption that could be caused by the misuse of information provided under Freedom of Information legislation'.

* Again, I have not asked for the telephone numbers of 'every member of staff' . That is a wild misinterpretation. So please could you explain how I could be considered to be making a vexatious request when you appear to be deliberately misquoting it?

:::

You further state that PHSO has decided that senior officers may not be contacted by telephone or by email ....in 2013.. And neither must the executive office.

What about those who are illiterate, may not afford postage fees, or green...and do not want to waste resources?

So much for the PHSO stating that the organisation is for everyone.

It is obviously only for those who are confident writing in the English language and want to spend out on postage.

I am very surprised that Dame Julie Mellor would support such an organisation that clearly discriminates against the poor, or those with a limited grasp of the English language, who want to speak to someone in authority, if their case had been mishandled.

Or is it the strategy of the PHSO to stop these categories of complainants from furthering their cases above the Review Team - as they cannot speak to the correct line-manager to make a verbal complaint?

A problem that I can personally vouch exists.

::::

In addition, I am not responsible for the phsothefacts website. If an ICO Decision requires the PHSO to put information in the public domain and on this website ..then I have no say in who reads it and what use may be made of it.

::::

I would therefore ask you once again to answer the actual request and not adapt mine to one of your design.

Please let me know if you do not intend to do so and I will further it to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Della left an annotation ()

'In this case, we have concluded that placing the telephone numbers of every member of staff at PHSO in the public domain could potentially cause significant levels of disruption to the organisation. We are aware that names of staff members obtained through a previous FOI request have been placed on the website ‘phsothefacts’, where individuals have been encouraged to further their campaign by contacting a range of staff directly. We are concerned that the release of a complete list of telephone numbers could be used in a similar way.' Aimee Gasston PHSO

Dear Aimee, the reason that the names and positions of the staff at PHSO are put on the website phsothefacts.com is to allow individuals to contact the appropriate person when their letters to the Ombudsman are ignored. If you are able to send correspondence to a named individual and state the position they hold in the organisation, there is every chance that the intended person will receive and be able to respond to that correspondence appropriately. This is how all organisations work Aimee. They publicise the names and positions of members of staff so that the public can contact the right person.

This is not part of a 'campaign' against you, it is simply members of the public trying to find resolution for their complaints. It is in effect the reason that PHSO exists in the first place, to deal with complaints from the public.

The root cause of the difficulty lies in PHSO policy of referring correspondence to 'no action required' and failing to respond. If the member of the public feels that some action is required the complaint will then escalate up through the levels of your organisation. The simple solution is to reply to correspondence received and resolve the difficulties you are there to resolve.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Well said Della,

The PHSO tries to cover up a problem of it's own making,....by blaming everyone else.

Dear foiofficer,

The fact is that even if you write to a named individual,...you mostly do not get a response from that individual.(see Dame Julie)

Any correspondence seems to go into a black hole. As you don't get an answer... and you have no idea where it ended up.

At least if you had the phone numbers of employes you could ring up and ask them if they received the letter. Or even email addresses of the executive office, which is presumably where the black hole is.although it's hard to know,

Emails are receipted...sometimes, not always. But at least you have proof that an email was sent off, even if nobody can be bothered to reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

I have tried the 0345 015 4033 number and found a stone wall. The young man who I spoke to was obnoxious and I felt like making yet another complaint, but couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t get past him.

After all, if as complainants we felt we had been treated fairly, there would not be this ground swell of dissatisfaction.

I also have been told about ‘vexatious calls’ policy by SCC when I asked the county council about their policy, ‘when people were off sick who did their work?’

To my surprise this is one of the ‘maladministration’s’ the LGO have found.

PHSO have no one to blame but themselves for their poor service which has not been addressed.

[name removed] left an annotation ()

Very well stated!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Referred to ICO

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Just another instance of how complainants are treated.

After I received the draft of a joint report from the Local Gov Ombudsman, I phoned to speak to my case worker at PHSO, but there was only an answer phone. Low and behold the case worker from LGO phoned me back!!!!!!

I’ve not had an answer from either organisations as to what proof they have from the District Nurse that they ever asked me for documents. Was it by phone, letter, email..? It is said that the D/N asked me for the patient’s medical notes which were left with my son. I wouldn't give them back! Needless to say no one asked me, because they don’t exist! Poor recording, or no recording by D/N. But no one wants to talk to me about it.

And PHSO wonder why we get upset!!!!!!!!! How thick can they be?

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

RESTRICTED

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

I am writing in response to your email of 20 December 2013. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request entitled “internal review of freedom of information request – Executive office (FDN-178734)”.

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to the Head of Risk, Assurance and Program Management Office, Mr Steve Brown.

Mr Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review that we will undertake.

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

Yours sincerely

Tanya Jackson
Business Support Officer to the Review Team Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Follow us on

show quoted sections

Dear Complaintsphso,

Thank you but It has already gone into Review once.

Now with the ICO

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[2]fb  [3]twitter  [4]linkedin

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
3. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Dear Brown Steve,

I agree.

I saw no point in having a second review, as it is with ICO where it can be decided.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Dear Brown Steve,

Please only reply via this website on all FoI requests.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Your information request (FDN-181222)

As a result of your clarification of your request, we have considered whether we are able to provide you with the telephone numbers of everyone who works in the Executive Office.

We have concluded that s14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 also applies to your request for the telephone numbers of everyone in the Executive Office, for the same reasons set out previously under reference FDN-178734. As we have previously explained, details of our customer helpline are available on our website at: www.ombudsman.org.uk

However, in order to be as helpful as possible, we are able to provide you with a contact telephone number for the Executive Office. This is 0300 061 4100.

I hope that this information is helpful. If you are unhappy with my decision not to give you all the information you requested, you can ask for a review by emailing: [email address]

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to look into your case. Their contact details are available on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

FOI/DP Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

As stated, the request is already with ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[2]fb  [3]twitter  [4]linkedin

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
3. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Dear Brown Steve,

That's two reviews you have completed.

Personally I think it's unnecessary to go for the hat-trick as this is already with the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Apparently the ICO have decided that I am vexatious in having made this request.

One small problem......the Ombudsman upheld my case on information gained from theses requests and apologised for the way in which my case was handled ..simply because there was no senior officer that would apparently review my case ( now being properly assessed) .

And guess what.. My case is against the ICO.

The other point is that in evidence to the ICO apparently my links with phsothefacts counted towards me being declared vexatious.

I have an internal email asking the FoI team being asked to 'beef up' the evidence of my links with this group.

As I'm not in the group, this is even more mystifying.

Therefore I will be taking this case to a tribunal.

And the PHSO's internal emails will now be made public as a result.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

December16,2013.( Above)

You further state that PHSO has decided that senior officers may
not be contacted by telephone or by email ....in 2013.. And neither
must the executive office.

What about those who are illiterate, may not afford postage fees,
or green...and do not want to waste resources?

So much for the PHSO stating that the organisation is for everyone.

It is obviously only for those who are confident writing in the
English language and want to spend out on postage.

I am very surprised that Dame Julie Mellor would support such an
organisation that clearly discriminates against the poor, or those
with a limited grasp of the English language, who want to speak to
someone in authority, if their case had been mishandled.

Or is it the strategy of the PHSO to stop these categories of
complainants from furthering their cases above the Review Team - as
they cannot speak to the correct line-manager to make a verbal
complaint?

A problem that I can personally vouch exists.

:::::::::

And what PASC says:

28 April 2014

In “Time for a Peoples’ Ombudsman” the Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) calls for a “People’s Ombudsman” and says the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which investigates complaints against the NHS and other government departments and agencies, is outdated. Citizens should have direct and more user-friendly access to the Ombudsman.

59. The manner in which a complaint is handled is a key part of the provision of redress, even if the complaint itself is not actually upheld. Allowing complaints to be submitted in person, by telephone, or online would empower more people to make complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). The requirement that all complaints to PHSO must be in writing presents a barrier to access and is out of step with other ombudsman services. For many people, form filling is an anathema to an understanding and supportive approach. It constitutes an unjustified barrier to those who lack literacy skills, and is out of date in a world where so much customer service is now delivered online, in person, or via the telephone.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO vexed this request - section 14(1).

The ICO upheld it.

The tribunal overturned the decision on November 19,2014.

And upheld my case.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Excellent news, but sad that the PHSO resisted doing the right thing for so long.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Since the Dransfield case, it's possible that organisations are using it as a 'new toy' in order to stop requesters from making legitimate requests.

The cost to the public purse of challenging justified requests must be considerable because not only does the organisation have to provide copius evidence - but the ICO has to process it .

And Tribunal is usually made up of a QC and two members of the public. Not to mention hire of a court room, travelling and hotel expenses.Even more, if the ICO fend a solicitor/ barrister to defend the case.

And yet in my case, the vexing if this request seems to be decided on evidence that was known to be flimsy and therefore requested to be 'beefed up'. No beefing up occurred, as far as I could see, so the case went forward on known fairly weak evidence.

The cost must of run into thousands, including professional time spent and associated costs.

Which is a terrific waste if everyone is being asked to tighten their belts. The money could of been better spent doing more comprehensive PHSO investigations and for the iCO, attending to serous data protection breaches.

I offered to withdraw my case early on , if the PHSO would admit to the obviously incorrect evidence given to the ICO ..but the PHSO turned me down.

I'll put information about a Tribunals on - as an annotation- later.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/gene...

Or Google : Ministry of justice. Grc.

It's the Information court to follow.

Everything is done by email. Via the grc..bar the court, which is local to the appellant ( you) .

And it costs nothing - if the case is not frivolous or ridiculously unjustified.

But those sort of cases are usually sorted it before court - and denied.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

So did you get all the information they were holding back J.T. Oakley and are you able to share it with other interested parties?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO's vexed this request on DECEMBER 16 .

But I think that somebody must have actually got round to reading it and realised that a mistake had been sometime in JANUARY.

Because, in FEBRUARY, the phone number of the Executive Office was given:

'However, in order to be as helpful as possible, we are able to provide you with a contact telephone number for the Executive Office. This is 0300 061 4100'. ...

So yes, I got some if the information...but after the vexing.

Because someone had realised that I had given chapter and verse about the ICO's Decision on public -facing employees phone numbers ....and was asking if the Decision applied to the Executive Office . Only.

There is a lot more to it but it's complicated.
::::

The request is called Executive Office - it's about the Executive Office - it's not about the entire PHSO staff , yet a Foi officer decided that I must have been weirdly asking for the phone number of someone say in.. Finance in Manchester ..too.

I had never asked for the 'Telephone numbers of ALL employees' ( because those were the grounds that were internally stated for the vexing - and which were given to the legal advisor by a female FOIA employee)

And that is what the PHSO told the ICO.

::::

Yet, even I think knowing a mistake had been made, the PHSO went on telling the ICO that I had asked for the telephone numbers of 'all staff'. The ICO also had access to the request, so it is surprising that it wasn't picked up.

:::

As I said, I gave the PHSO a chance to correct the record - I didn't want to go to court, I've got other thing to do - but clearly spending a terrific amount of public money on the Tribunal and wasting my time isn't the PHSO's concern.

Presumably covering up a mistake is.

Nb Just look at the number of unasked-for reviews.

And the attempt to take the request off WDTK.. By answering via my private address.

::::

Why the Tribunal overturned the ICO's Decision.

The PHSO's argument was that I was basically inflicting my temper on the FOIA employees, by making frivolous or unfair requests .... because my case had ended..and was therefore 'futile'.

That is where the Dransfield case came in. Because it's used to prove vexing.

Here's the criteria;

· Can the request fairly be seen as obsessive?
· Is the request harassing the authority or causing distress to staff?
· Would complying with the request impose a significant burden in terms of expense and distraction?
· Is the request designed to cause disruption or annoyance?
· Does the request lack any serious purpose?

The 'futility' is that the PHSO must have concluded its formal procedures, after I made a complaint.
And then continued to badger the organisation - out of pique.

Whoops!

The vexing must have been based on the opinion that the Head of Review is infallible.

Because my complaint against the HOR was upheld in FEBRUARY... And proceeded further to internal investigation. It more or less finished in OCTOBER 2014.

1. So my complaint against the Head of Review was just.

2. And this request , which was trying to establish the where to lodge complaint towards getting a fair and impartial decision, over the head of the HOR ..who had previously been 'handling ' my complaint about herself, was not 'designed to 'harass' PHSO employees'

::::.

According to internal files, the vexing stems from legal advisor Ann Harding stating:

'I think we have had enough'

When the FOIA employee went to her stating that I had asked for 'every employee's phone number'.... and then proceeding with the vexing on those grounds.

The PHSO must have thought that I hadn't 'had enough'.

.... And that I could be pushed around for months - yet again. (It's now rolled into two years).

And the ICO would uphold any information given to it by the PHSO.

Which, of course, it did.

And that I wouldn't be prepared to go to a Tribunal.

::::

Here's the vexing (14(1) Decision that Tribunal overturned:

http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

::::

Here's the irony:

I told the Tribunal,that, if the PHSO employees hadn't been so desperately over-eager to apply the PHSO's first 'vexing' ...and stuck with Section 42 (personal information) - instead of applying section 14 (1) (vexing) - they'd have succeeded.

I would have accepted that.

:::

Dransfield case.

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC/...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

GRC Information Tribunal saw through the false information on this vexing and overturned ICO judgement.

Legitimate reason for request as my Complaint was still in progress- and upheld by external investigator.
Therefore it could not be 'futile'
Line between persistence and obsession not crossed - due to to PHSO's sub-standard case handling.
No evidence of harassment of staff provided.

Dransfield case not comparable.

.....The QC makes some pertinent points in the judgement.

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Apols link to Tribunal Decision won't seem to load.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Navigating the HM Courts and Tribunal Service website is not easy! The register of cases was last updated on 7/1/15, so this may be why the link is not working. No outcome of your case is recorded (page 8):

https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/tri...

ICO gets it wrong:

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Fingers crossed that these links will work!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The judgement itself ..

It's through this link... It's grc..... information tribunals.

Here's how the grc told he to find it:

If you are referring to where the decisions are put on the website, please use the following link: http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/Pu...

It wasn' t really the ICO's fault. They just belived what the PHSO told them about my non- futile case being futile.
And when it was upheld , it left them arguing Dransfield.

I offered to drop the case if the PHSO would retract its statements about me.. But no. So probably around £8-10k of taxpayers money was spent on a PHSO vanity project.

It's on Twitter if the site still won't accept the link.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Thanks for the info and link:

"we are convinced beyond doubt about the bona fide design behind the request which arose out of frustration pursuant to her dealings with the PHSO in getting answers to important and genuine issues she required
assistance with"

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Maybe mistakes in this as hurriedly written but this was why the Tribunal unvexed the request:

Background to the Appeal

The relevant background to this appeal set out in the confidential annex to the DN and has been disclosed the Appellant and is adopted for the purposes of this appeal.

Essentially the Appellant made complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman(PHSO) the public authority in question about the service received from PHSO are so including how staff have dealt with her concerns when dealing with her complaint about the Respondent herein.

The issues that arise in this appeal include requests made by the appellant where she claimed that she experienced difficulties in identifying where she should direct a complaint about the way her case had been dealt with and the member of staff concerned.

The nature and extent of the requests are set out fully in the DN the grounds of the Appellant and the Respondent's formal response.

The response specifically to these appellants request 18th of November 2013 PHSO for telephone extension numbers later, identified further clarified by the appellant to be telephone numbers of the executive office staff,( the requested information). PHSO provided a further response on February 4 stating that the requested information was still exempt by virtue of section 14 (1) FOIA were the reasons previously provided. It is noted that the PHSO did provide a central number for the Executive Office which could be used as a point of contact.

The Decision Notice

Section 14 (1) FOIA stated that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious. There is no public interest test.

The Respondent properly identifies the criteria to be considered in the issue of vexatious requests and refers to the Dransfield decision wherein the Upper Tribunal commented that vexatious could be defined as 'manifestly unjustified inappropriate or improper use of a formal procedure' and refers to instructive identification examples such as the burden imposed by the request, the motive of the requester, harassment or distress to public authority employees while reminding us that these were not exhaustive tests.

As in any case before these courts and Tribunals, each case must be decided on its merits.

Proportionality and justification a important aspects also and again in Dransfield the Upper Tribunal helpfully identifies the importance of adopting a holistic and broad approach to the determination of whether a request is vexatious or not.

We note and have noted in many of these cases the significance of the previous course of dealings as there in the facts of this case.

In the DN his response to the grounds of an Appeal,the Respondent sets out carefully his reasoning his decision find that this case crosses the fine line between being 'obsessive rather than a persistent' request.

This tribunal heard at length from the Appellant at the oral hearing of this appeal and while we agreed request has most of the ingredients of a vexatious request and borders on the obsessive we are satisfied, having heard the Appellant, and considered all the evidence, that the request while certainly persistent, falls short of being obsessive and, in all the circumstances, we do not find the request vexatious.

Reasons

We do not accept that it was designed to cause disruption and annoyance to staff at the PHSO and while we accept it may well have done so we are convinced beyond doubt about the bona fide design behind the request, which arose out of frustration pursuant to her dealings with the PHSO in getting answers to important and genuine issues she required assistance with.

Again we do not accept that the Appellant used her request as a means to vent anger at any particular decision or to harass and annoy the public authority.

We have considered carefully you respond to this suggestion in her Grounds of Appeal and the detailed evidence before us and I'll satisfied there were reasonable grounds for her request and there was reason to be dissatisfied with the service she was being given by the public authority

Having considered the evidence and on hearing the Appellant on what were clearly had genuine concerns, we find that the backdrop of other correspondence and complaints only exacerbated her grounds for concerns and the frustration she felt in all the circumstances of the case.

The Appellant clearly was not getting satisfaction nor the meaningful response she deserved.

This Tribunal reminds itself that every is the duty on Public Authorities to assist members of the public in formulating and processing their requests.

On hearing the appellant on the facts of this case we are all the view that more could have been done to assist the processing of this request.

That this was a request with a genuine purpose was acknowledged by the Respondent but this Tribunal adds that the Appellant has satisfied that the need for her persistence, in its various forms as it transpired on the facts is justified by the failure of the Public Authority to respond more comprehensively, effectively, efficiently or adequately.

This is despite the assertion that the value of this particular request maybe or even might be regarded as limited. We have no doubt ( and it seems to be common case) that the motive for the Appellant's request is to generally seek information that would enable her to contact the relevant person, in order to challenge the Review team's decision as they were not answering complaints.

That is what the case is all about.

This failure to act properly or adequately respond to this request led to confusion and frustration and a breakdown in communications such that the Appellant did not seek or deserve.

We are of the view that it is wrong to suggest that she deliberately sought to all set out to harass or distress the public authorities staff and on hearing the Appellant at length we find on balance this case has not been established.

We note that the Respondent also accepts to a degree these findings of fact but decided that the effect of the request was such to cause harassment or distress.

We do not accept this as proven on balance on the papers and have heard no evidence in support of these assertions.

Further if there were any perceived harassment or such distress then the burden for such, in our considered view, cannot be placed entirely on the Applicant or her request.

.....

We are satisfied that a more constructive and helpful response from the public authority would have averted the resulting persistence that evolved through the Appellant by a failure to provide appropriate assistance and answers in an unnecessarily long and drawn out process of dealing with the Appellant.

The evidence of impact of any burden on the authority is not, in our view, a burden which should be placed solely on the Appellant,on the facts of the case.

As can be seen from our deliberation above, this was an unfortunate case of poor communication that led to persistent conduct by the Appellant which bordered on the oppressive( sic) obsessive but did not in our view on a holistic and broad view of the facts of this particular case become either oppressive (sic) obsessive or vexatious.

Accordingly we allow the Appeal and reverse the finding of the DN under Appeal.

Brian Kennedy QC

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...