The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complains about unsolicited emails sent by the Council to the complainant. This is because the Council remedied any injustice during its complaint procedure, and it is therefore unlikely we could add to their investigation. If he feels the Council has mishandled his data, he can raise his complaint with the Information Commissioner.
- The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr C, complains that the Council has sent him several unsolicited emails.
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:
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
- there is another body better placed to consider this complaint, or
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered Mr C’s complaint and the Council’s response. I sent Mr C a draft version of this decision and invited his comments.
What I found
- Mr C complained that the Council had sent him several unsolicited emails. He said he did not want any more emails but had not been able to unsubscribe. He asked the Council to remove his email from its mailing list.
- After bringing his complain to the Ombudsman, the Council responded to Mr C. It said that his email had been removed from the Council’s mailing list and he would no longer receive general unsolicited emails.
- I will not investigate Mr C’s complaint about unsolicited emails. This is because the Council has now done what he asked, and it is therefore unlikely that we could add anything to its investigation.
- Furthermore, if Mr C is dissatisfied with how the Council has handled his personal data, he can raise these data protection issues with the Information Commissioner.
- Mr C has also complained about how the Council handled his complaints about the matter, including how a Councillor responded to his concerns. However, it is not good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, where we are not also investigating the substantive issue, which is the unsolicited emails. If Mr C thinks the Councilor has breached the Council’s code of conduct he can raise the issued with the Monitoring Officer.
- We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we can add anything to the Council’s investigation and because he can raise the issue with the Information Commissioner.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman