The legal minefield of the PHSO re-opening of cases and the PHSO commencement of fresh/new investigations.

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman should normally have responded promptly and by (details)

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

(1) Please provide all relevant documents (commissioned legal advice, discussions, emails, legal briefing notes, unabridged Board Meeting Minutes etc..) that the PHSO possess with regard to the legal status of the re-opening of PHSO investigations after a case has been closed.

(2) Please provide all relevant documents (commissioned legal advice, discussions, emails, legal briefing notes, unabridged Board Meeting Minutes etc..) that the PHSO possess with regard to the legal status of fresh/new investigations after a case has been closed.

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

InformationRights@CMSPHSOLGO.mail.onmicrosoft.com,

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear M Boyce

 

RE: Your information request: R0000929

 

I write in response to your email dated 11 October 2019 regarding your
request for information to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
(PHSO) which has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Your request has been considered vexatious under Section 14(1) of the Act.
Section 14 (1) states: ‘Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to
comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious’.

 

We consider that your request is burdensome with a level of unjustified
disruption. To respond to this request is considered to be disruptive,
burdensome and the PHSO would have to expend a disproportionate effort to
meet the request which engages section 14(1) whereby we cannot reasonably
be expected to comply.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way I have processed your
information request, it is open to you to request an internal review. You
can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need to specify that the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [3]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'The legal minefield of the PHSO re-opening of cases and the PHSO commencement of fresh/new investigations.'.

I do not agree that my request is vexatious.

The ICO have stated that the PHSO failed to provide relevant legal advice to the First-tier Tribunal regarding the review process. This current request is simply in response to this confusion.

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

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

InformationRights@CMSPHSOLGO.mail.onmicrosoft.com,

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

M Boyce,

You might like to read this recent UT decision:

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

“7.14 Public authorities should avoid using section 14 for burdensome requests unnecessarily. On this basis they should always consider whether section 12 applies in the first instance. For example, if a public authority considers that locating and extracting the information in scope would exceed the cost limit, section 12 is likely to be most appropriate."

Did the PHSO consider whether section 12 was applicable? If so, when did they decide that it was not? If they did consider it, presumably a record would exist confirming that they did. You could make a 'meta request' asking for a copy of the record which confirms that section 12 was considered.

'8. The Commissioner has issued guidance on meta requests. Her guidance advises:

“A meta request is a request for recorded information about the handling of a previous information request...Meta requests do not have any special status under FOIA or the EIR, nor are there any specificexemptions (or exceptions) for this type of request. This means that an authority should treat meta requests in the same way as any other information request”.'

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Link to the Freedom of Information Code of Practice:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

M Boyce left an annotation ()

No J Roberts the PHSO have not considered section 12. My submissions so far have not raised your particularly perceptive point. If I get chance to make a further submission that submission most certainly will.

Jason left an annotation ()

Something very strange has happened to the other thread:

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

At around midnight, a significant number of posts/annotations mysteriously disappeared (not just mine).

I also can't add any more annotations.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Yes Jason this is very strange and worrying. I will get in touch with WDTK to try and find out what has happened.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

I've sent a message to the WDTK team to ask them to look into or explain what is going on.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

What has now happened to the post from whatyoudontknow, or whatever it or who it was? I didn't open it because I thought it looked dodgy.

Jason left an annotation ()

Yes, something very strange is going on.

I opened it, as it was just a PDF. It was a letter from mySociety.org to a WDTK user threatening to take legal action if they continued to use the site. I'm note sure about the legitimacy of it though.

Jason left an annotation ()

Have you had any response to your enquiry?

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Yes, the WDTK Support Team have told me that they have disabled the annotations function from this request. It would have been nice to have been informed beforehand, so I wasn't worrying about malicious intent etc..

The Team say:

'We would respectfully suggest that the use of our annotation functionality may not be the best way to exchange advice on the matters that you are seeking to address with the PHSO.'

It might not be the best way, but I truly believed it was of real value and benefit to the public and myself - I've learnt much from the exchange of information and I hope others have gained something from it too.

Jason left an annotation ()

That is really saddening news, M Boyce. I thought that thread was an extremely invaluable tool to exchange information of significant public importance.

I've also learnt a lot from that thread.

I wonder if someone maliciously reported it? Why were certain posts deleted and not others?

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Thanks very much Jason, and for sending me the OneDrive information.

The WDTK Team have elaborated further and said that they decided to remove the annotation function from the request because the discussion was straying too far towards criticising the PHSO. In any case, they have said that when I get my Tribunal decision they would be happy to let me post that outcome on that request. I will do that and I will post the decision on here too. I will say that the Tribunal have informed me that they will not be able to assign it to a panel until mid-January 2020 at the earliest.

Thanks everyone for their advice and assistance.