Information Rights Tribunal - Appeal Ref: EA/2013/0285

Stan Higgleston (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to North East Lincolnshire Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Stan Higgleston (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

It has recently been determined by the High Court ( http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi... )that the information relating to a decision taken by certain officers of NELC (see below) that the council had no legal obligation to hold, has in fact a legal obligation to hold it.

See paragraph 14 of Information Commissioner's Decision Notice (Ref: FS50505226)

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

"14. ....It explained that on receiving the request in May 2013, discussions took place between Local Taxation & Benefits Shared Service Manager, Strategic Lead - Revenues, Court Enforcement Officer and Accountancy, and it was noted through discussion, that with regards to 34 (5) of SI 1992/613 the council had no legal obligation to hold the information requested."

Q1. Would North East Lincolnshire Council please provide all recorded information regarding the discussions that took place which led to the decision taken by the council that it had no legal obligation to hold the information requested?

Yours faithfully,

Stan Higgleston

Stan Higgleston (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

For anyone curious as to the significance of this request, it might serve to put it into a wider context.

The Council was challenged that it had a legal obligation to be able to support its council tax court summons costs which it had increased (over night) by 120%. The council denied that it had a legal obligation and on these grounds (as well as others) complaint was made to the Information Commissioner and subsequently to the Information Rights Tribunal. Both the Commissioner and Tribunal Judge agreed with the Council that the relevant legislation and government guidance provided no legal obligation for the council to be able to support the costs which it recharged to NE Lincs residents in these proceedings.

It must have been important for the complainant's appeal to fail because the Information Commissioner splashed out on a Barrister to represent the ICO who specialised in this area.

However, recent judgment in a High Court case very relevant to the matters raised in the Information Rights Tribunal ruled completely the opposite. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

The irony is that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the judgment was modelled on the various papers submitted to the Tribunal.

Grounds of Appeal (Notice of Appeal) https://www.scribd.com/doc/194668610/Gro...

Reply to Commissioner's Barrister https://www.scribd.com/doc/205364761/Rep...

Permission to Appeal to Upper Tribunal https://www.scribd.com/doc/229409190/Per...

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear <insert name>

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your request for information, which has been
allocated the reference number 0249_1516

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for processing and
you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will
take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you
of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:
[1]http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council/the-co....

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

Resources Directorate

 

 

 

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

 

Thank you for your information request, reference number 0249_1516. I wish
to confirm that North East Lincolnshire Council holds the following
information:

 

Request:

Would North East Lincolnshire Council please provide all recorded
information regarding the discussions that took place which led to the
decision taken by the council that it had no legal obligation to hold the
information requested?

 

Response:

North East Lincolnshire Council do not hold any recorded information in
relation to the discussions referred to above.

 

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to
request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which
elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are
unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal
review process.  If following this you are still dissatisfied you may
contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request
an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary
arrangements.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

Resources Directorate

 

 

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Stan Higgleston (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

With regard to the following Information Commissioner's Decision Notice and the content at paragraph 14 (see below) can you confirm whether North East Lincolnshire Council lied to the Information Commissioner whilst he carried out his investigations, or, whether North East Lincolnshire Council is now lying?

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

"14. ....It explained that on receiving the request in May 2013, discussions took place between Local Taxation & Benefits Shared Service Manager, Strategic Lead - Revenues, Court Enforcement Officer and Accountancy, and it was noted through discussion, that with regards to 34 (5) of SI 1992/613 the council had no legal obligation to hold the information requested."

Yours sincerely,

Stan Higgleston

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

Further to your email below.

Based on the content of your correspondence, we determine that this request is vexatious. Your correspondence is intended to raise unfounded allegations against the Council and serves no purpose .

Section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act states that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if that request is vexatious.

North East Lincolnshire Council will therefore not be responding to this request.

If you disagree with the Council determining your request is vexatious you have the right to request an internal review by the Council. If following this you remain dissatisfied you may contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary arrangements.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

Feedback Officer
Resources Directorate

Confidentiality Note. :The information in this message including any attachments may be confidential or privileged and is for the use of the named recipient only. If you are not the named or intended recipient you may not copy, distribute, or deliver this message to anyone or take any action in reliance on it. If you receive this message in error please contact the sender immediately and delete it from your system

Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

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Stan Higgleston (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

North East Lincolnshire Council is blatantly showing itself to be untrustworthy and accuses members of the public of being vexatious when merely pointing out the obvious.

Yours sincerely,

Stan Higgleston

Cherie Jerez left an annotation ()

I've seen some front before, but for NELC to say that it doesn't hold the information and then states that the request is vexatious when the requester states that the council must be lying takes the biscuit.

The Information Commissioner's official Decision Notice states that discussions took place between certain officers of the council and it was NOTED through discussion, that with regards the relevant information the council had no legal obligation to hold it.

Pursuant to section 84 of the Freedom of Information Act, information means “information recorded in any form”.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

Stan Higgleston (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of North East Lincolnshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Information Rights Tribunal - Appeal Ref: EA/2013/0285'.

You have refused initially to provide the requested information based on the claim that the authority does not hold it. Subsequent to my email expressing my observations which any reasonable person would find difficulty disagreeing with, you have considered the request vexatious.

This leads me to question whether NELC has deliberately provoked me by responding in such an obviously dishonest way, so I would accuse the council of lying, thus saving the council embarrassment of having to deal further with this request.

It matters not if that has been NELC's game plan because the request is simply the information that was communicated to the council in the email dated 17 July 2015 and clearly not intended to raise unfounded allegations against the Council which serves no purpose.

Now to the request for an internal review.

The Information Commissioner's official Decision Notice states that discussions took place between certain officers of the council and it was NOTED through discussion, that with regards the relevant information the council had no legal obligation to hold it.

I'm sure that you are aware that pursuant to section 84 of the Freedom of Information Act, information means “information recorded in any form”.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

Knowing that the information exists in some form, i.e. the discussions were NOTED, I would appreciate this information disclosing.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...

Yours faithfully,

Stan Higgleston

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your correspondence and wish to confirm that
an Internal Review of the handling of your Information Request 0249_1415
is to take place.

 

The Internal Review has been passed to the relevant department for
processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day
limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you,
we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for
receiving a response.

 

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:
[1]http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council/the-co....

 

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

Resources Directorate

 

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information request 0249/1516,
concerning Information Rights Tribunal.

I have reviewed the response provided to you and the handling of your
request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and find:

o That your request was responded to within the statutory time of 20
working days;
o That you were informed whether or not the information you asked for
was held by North East Lincolnshire Council;
o That you were provided with the reasons why any information you had
asked for could not be supplied to you under the Freedom of
Information Act; and
o That your response provided you with your rights of appeal. 

I am therefore satisfied that the Council has acted in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act in the handling of your request.

Initially you requested access to all recorded information regarding the
discussions that took place which led to a decision taken by officers of
the council.  A response was provided to you on 24^th July advising you
that North East Lincolnshire Council does not hold any recorded
information in relation to the discussions you referred to within your
request. Upon receipt of your response you provided a further email where
you requested information regarding whether “North East Lincolnshire
Council has lied to the Information Commissioner whilst he carried out his
investigations, or, whether North East Lincolnshire Council is now
lying”.   Your request for information was deemed vexatious and was exempt
from disclosure by virtue of section 14 (1) of the freedom of information
act.

 

Having reviewed your request for information and the exemption that has
been applied, I can confirm that North East Lincolnshire Council do not
hold any recorded information in relation to the discussions you referred
to in your original request. In respect of the exemption of Section 14 (1)
which was applied to your request, I am satisfied that this was applied in
the correct manner with a justified reason as your correspondence was
deemed to raise unfounded allegations against the Council. 

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

 

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Stan Higgleston (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

"...I am satisfied that this was applied in the correct manner with a justified reason as your correspondence was deemed to raise unfounded allegations against the Council."

Has North East Lincolnshire Council acted on legal advice considering that the above statement implies that it is does not operate crookedly?

Yours sincerely,

Stan Higgleston

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

An internal review has been undertaken of your request. As previously advised, if you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

We consider that your requests demonstrate an unreasonably entrenched position and demonstrate no willingness to engage with the authority. Section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act states that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if that request is determined to be vexatious. We will therefore not be responding to this request or any requests of a similar nature.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

Ian Hollingsworth

Information Governance and Complaints

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Stan Higgleston (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The Information Commissioners latest response:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...

Though some additional information has been supplied it is evident that the investigating officer took the word of North East Lincolnshire Council regarding the authority having no legal obligation to hold the information requested.

Unfortunately, this is how easy it is for local authorities to pull the wool over the eyes of the FoI governing body to get out of their obligations under the 2000 Act.