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 how the Council dealt with his requests for information. This is because it is reasonable for Mr X to take the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- Mr X complains the Council provided him with incorrect and conflicting information following a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Mr X also complains the Council failed to respond to other requests for information.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 there is another body better placed to consider this complaint.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) considers complaints about freedom of information. Its decision notices may be appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights). So where we receive complaints about freedom of information, we normally consider it reasonable to expect the person to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner.
How I considered this complaint
- I considered Mr X’s complaint and the Council’s response, and invited Mr X to comment on a draft of this decision.
What I found
- Mr X says he requested information from the Council under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). He says the Council provided him with incorrect and conflicting information, and in some cases did not provide any information at all. Mr X says this led to him being evicted from his home.
- The Council acknowledges it did not provide all the information it was able to at the time of Mr X’s request. The Council acknowledged it failed to meet the requirements of Section 10 of the FOIA, and the Section 45 Code of Practice. The Council referred Mr X to the ICO.
- The ICO deals with complaints about freedom of information and is better placed to consider this matter. I have seen nothing to suggest it would not be reasonable for Mr X to take the matter to the ICO.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about how the Council dealt with his requests for information. This is because it is reasonable for Mr X to take the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman