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Sheffield City Council (18 017 697)

Category : Other Categories > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 29 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council breaching data protection rules and a court order. Mr X may go to the Information Commissioner or consider his legal remedies.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains that in 2017 the Council sent his personal information to the parents of a child without his permission, a court order, or good cause. He says the information was used to coach and manipulate another person. Mr X says the Council should admit the error and apologise.
  2. Mr X says the Council has failed to explain how it has handled his personal data and refused to deal with his complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner if they have a complaint about data protection. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  3. The law says a claim for compensation can be made at court for failure to comply with certain data protection requirements causing damage or distress (Data Protection Act 1988, section 13)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Mr X’s information and comments. The information includes his email correspondence with the Council between 3 December 2018 and February 2019.

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What I found

  1. In 2015 Mr X was a party to court proceedings involving his partner’s children. Mr X says the court made an order requiring: ‘court permission or my written consent to share’ information with other people.
  2. In 2018 Mr X wrote to the Council saying he understood that, in 2017, the Council had sent information to the parents of the child without good cause, an order of the court, or his permission. Mr X says this information was used to coach and manipulate a third party.
  3. On 14 January 2019 Mr X wrote to the Council saying he intends pursuing the matter with the Information Commissioner and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. Mr X may complain to the Information Commissioner if the Council fails to provide him with information or if he believes it is not complying with data protection requirements. I consider it reasonable that he should do so because the Information Commissioner has responsibility and powers to compel the Council to act.
      2. The Ombudsman investigates fault causing injustice. There is insufficient evidence that Mr X has suffered a significant personal injustice.
      3. Should Mr X wish to claim compensation he has a legal remedy which places the complaint outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction (see paragraph 4 & 5). I consider it reasonable for Mr X to pursue this remedy because a court has the power to decide the case. Mr X’s complaint is also that the Council has failed to comply with a court order.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council breaching data protection rules and a court order. Mr X can go to the Information Commissioner or consider his legal remedies.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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