'vexatious'?

Am I being controversial? 

I am opening this - what I hope becomes a discussion, because it is important to me, and I think will resonate with many others - positively or negatively.  In Digital Leaders NW we have discussed 'Open Data', 'Data Security' and many aspects of digital information, but we have not talked specifically about how it can just as easily be 'digitally censored'.  

01/03/2016. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/01/freedom-of-information-review-decides-no-legal-changes-to-act#comment-69677656

The announcement from the report of a commission established in July by Matthew Hancock, Cabinet Office minister has concluded (although I haven't read the whole thing!) that there need to be no changes in the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000.  I am slightly surprised, but heartened by the decision.  

Regardless -FOI needs to be made more definitive. I am aware of a Council actually using it to gain competitive advantages (for its developer team). Such use is not what it is for. Such uses should be weeded out. What must change is the abuse of the 'vexatious' definition. It is being used to deflect real, valuable enquiries, and it is allowing public sector to hide information too easily. Looking back at where the origins of the 'vexatious' use was derived, that "Dransfield" decision must overturned or revised.

Oxford Dictionary: "Law Denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendantfrivolous or vexatious litigant"

Note: I have made a number of FOI requests myself.  In each case the requests were made for specific or public interest reasons.  I am totally transparent: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/john_rudkin/requests.

I'd like to see how many times that 'vexatious' has been used, and how its use has grown... but such an FOI might be labelled 'vexatious'?

Security level: Public

4 Comments

JD
John Diffenthal 3 Years Ago
On balance I think that most would agree that the FOIA has been a good thing. However, a significant number of the requests I receive have less to do with operations in my LA than they do with the marketing activities of some suppliers. Why else ask for the contact details of unsuccessful suppliers at each stage of a tender?
John Rudkin 3 Years Ago
John, I couldn't really comment on the total number of requests being marketing activities, but I emphasise again that the activity I mention was from a Council to other Councils, and it was very much preparation for a spin off company that then went on to contract to its own council for work (and won). Very dubious. Surely there ought to be a way to filter out wanton attempts to simply gain commercial advantage? This is a 'must' in any revisions of FOI. The true fact is that a few organisations are using FOIA 2000, and in particular the rather poorly maintained and managed, quirky and opinionated 'vexatious' as an opportunity to hide matters of public importance.
John Rudkin 3 Years Ago - Edited
This comment reached me. Apparently, while a member of Knowledge Hub, the gentleman concerned cannot post. I take exception to my question being called 'vexatious'. It had to do with a point that would be of PUBLIC interest. Mr Dransfield is an important part of this vexatiousness debate - in fact his case seems to be the precedent by which the law (law?) has been created. Reminder taken from the Oxford English Dictionary: "Law Denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant: a frivolous or vexatious litigant" "Dear Mr Bradshaw Please see the attached article from a member of the public whom hold concerns for the manner in which Vexatious decisions are being handed out by the ICO and Public Authorities. Mr Rudkin has every right to be concerned about the use and abuse of this Vexatious Claptrap. Yours etc Alan M Dransfield UK's Leading Authority on Vexatious Exemptions."
John Rudkin 2 Years Ago
Way back in 2016 (time passes rapidly!) I said: "I'd like to see how many times that 'vexatious' has been used, and how its use has grown... but such an FOI might be labelled 'vexatious'?" Well, the numbers have been made available...but they seem to be very variable. Surely it would not be difficult to count ACTUAL cases instead of publishing scatter gun guesstimates? 26/01/2017: "it was 7598 yesterday at this time and today is 7868. That's a discrepancy of 270 DN's because not one single NEW DN has been added to the website." 28/01/2017: "Today's total is 7614 and yesterday's total was 9670" "Sat Total 7614 Sun Total 9670 Mon 31st 8937." Dransfield Vexatious Case GIA/3030/2011 is a disaster indeed. A disaster of legislative application and a disaster for freedom of information. John