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Central Bedfordshire Council (19 019 837)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about inappropriate comments in internal Council emails. It is unlikely we could achieve significantly more than the Council has already given in reply to his complaint.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says Council officers made inappropriate comments about him in internal emails.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word 'fault' to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X provided with his complaint and the Council’s replies which it provided. I considered Mr X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

Background

  1. In the Spring of 2019, Mr X asked the Council to provide all the internal emails it held about him. When he received the documents, he found some which had comments on him which he found inappropriate and unprofessional. He says they were insulting and hurt his feelings. He says they prove the Council had always been hostile towards him. He says it distressed him.
  2. Mr X complained to the Council. In its reply it set out in an appendix the comments Mr X disagreed with. The Council accepted that many were inappropriate. Both the Head of Children Services and the Council’s Chief Executive provided written apologies. They confirmed the line managers would be dealing with the officers involved.
  3. Mr X is not happy with this response. He would like an independent review, an apology given in a meeting and for it to be documented. He would like the Council to be told that its officers should not send defamatory emails about third parties to each other.

Analysis

  1. It is unlikely our investigation could achieve a significant different outcome than already achieved. The Council has accepted faults and apologised. This is documented in the Council’s records. The Council officers already know they should not send defamatory emails to each other about third parties.
  2. An investigation is not justified if there is not a significantly different outcome achievable.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we could achieve a significantly different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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