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The Cabinet Office is vexed

Martin Rosenbaum | 15:15 UK time, Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has been encouraging public authorities to adopt a more 'robust' approach to rejecting 'vexatious' freedom of information requests, issuing updated advice in the summer.

Mr Thomas has said that public authorities could reject more requests as vexatious than they have been doing. Perhaps his stance is now having an effect.

Take this case - is it vexatious to ask Downing St for copies of emails sent personally by Gordon Brown in a particular week? The Cabinet Office seems to think it is.

Of course it would have been easier for the Cabinet Office to answer this question for Mr Brown's predecessor. In the case of the famously technophobic Tony Blair (a pen and paper man, according to Alastair Campbell), the answer would almost certainly have been none.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:18 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

The only reason Mr Thomas has issued this guidance is to reduce the number of complaints his office will receive when the "institutionally narcissistic" Cabinet Office refuse almost every request they receive.

I find it interesting that provision exists for public authorities to be able to cite a request as being vexatious, but requestors of information are unable to have their complaints about "vexatious" replies addressed by Mr Thomas's clearly "unfit for purpose" department.

  • 2.
  • At 04:27 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Vexatious as Stephen commented on. Vexatious? So in old English does that mean "awkward if every answered"

Pro-forma letter citing vexatious request request declined expected then Mr Thomas.

  • 3.
  • At 04:53 PM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • Greenman wrote:

I live in a Wonderland. I am told by by wife to write to the Information Commissioners office in order to enquire what the delay is in responding to my simple request.

But being an awkward so and so (my possible arrested development perhaps, I have been musing on) I will not waste the postage stamp. I couldn't write the letter with a straight face.

The timetable to responding to this appeal in some way is long gone - so it is a bit surreal watching the dictums being issued by Mr Richard Thomas to others on how to behave.

Excuse after excuse after excuse seemingly proferred via my contacts but what it means is that the likelihood of me learning anything this year recedes.

Dead men did tell tales I suspect and although they (the tales) are most probably untrue - someone still prefers the legends from the facts.

Mine was a family history thing - so put in context to the loss of millions of peoples data - small beer.

But Freedom of Information in Great Britain? It would be nice one day - soon.

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