On International Human Rights Day 2016 ANM hosts an Open Letter from Freedom of Information (FOI) Campaigner Alan Dransfield, to the Lord Chancellor the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss. This begins ANM’s scrutiny of the use of vexatious process to subvert Human Rights that are deemed necessary in a democracy.
Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP
The Lord Chancellor
10th December 2016
Dear Lord Chancellor
Freedom of Information
Over the last six weeks I have provided you with sufficient demonstrable evidence that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are in meltdown and guilty of fraud and theft of Public Funds to enable you to act.
There is also tangible evidence the ICO have been complicit with rogue Public Authorities to pervert the Course of Justice by the consistent misuse and abuse of section 14/1 of the FOIA 2004, i.e., vexatious exemption. Ditto for section 12(4)(b) of the EIRA 204: Manifestly Unreasonable.
The evidence of complicity between the ICO and Public Authorities seeking to avoid obligations under FOI by consistent misuse and abuse of Section 14/1 vexatious exemption is overwhelming.
My allegations originally stem from personal experience of a lack of transparency, leading to me becoming the UK’s leading Court Authority on vexatious exemption via GIA/3037/2011 Dransfield v ICO, which was upheld in the Court of Appeal under C3/2015/1855 Dransfield v ICO but irrefutable evidence held by me shows the legal errors in the GIA/3037/2011 vexatious decision. “Legal errors” would be too kind, I am of the view Judge Wikeley made his vexatious decision via a perverse mindset.
However there is a plethora of other allegations against the ICO, all of which support my claim that the ICO are in meltdown.
Lord Chancellor, this vexatious claptrap MUST stop and the ICO must be held accountable, for both their fiscal remit and their moral obligations. The buck stop at your desk.
My latest case with the ICO is regarding the Olympic Stadium, which I maintain is unsafe and unfit for purpose during a thunderstorm, because it has not been provisioned with Lightning Protection. The ICO claim 12 (5), national security, public safety claptrap.
Things are SO bad at the ICO you could do a lot worse than sacking Elizabeth Denham and replacing her with yours truly Alan M Dransfield.
For your information, action and files
Alan M Dransfield
FOI Campaigner and Social Watchdog
What the FOI?
Mr Dransfield’s long experience as a social watchdog on FOI includes both success and failure in gaining public interest information.
Dransfield’s successful appeal, following initial refusal for information about the lack of lightning protection on the Exeter rugby bridge, was subsequently turned over yet again by the above mentioned Judge Wikeley in a further appeal action brought significantly, not by Exeter County Council, but by the ICO itself.
It’s hard not to notice that the notion of “vexatious” planted in that second appeal has since been extensively used, citing this very case as precedent, to avoid thousands of public enquiries into matters of public safety by creating Mr Dransfield into a ‘vexatious’ scape-goat, a ready peg for public authorities to hang their hat on when they don’t want to answer the question.
Mr Dransfield has served that purpose for them over 3,800 documentable times, and his superior knowledge of lighting protection systems, and Health and Safety regulations, made him an obvious candidate for the projection of a vexatiousness that more properly should be seen as belonging to the ICO itself.
This is especially true in view of the recent ECHR ruling in the case of Magyar Helsinki Bizottsàg v Hungary which has now established the relevance of Article 10 to freedom of information about matters of public interest, with direct implications for the legion instances Mr Dransfield has highlighted of such requests being treated as “vexatious”.
UK out of step with Article 10?
The United Kingdom was a nay-saying “intervener” in the landmark Magyar Helsinki Bizottsàg v Hungary case, arguing that there was no such obligation to part with information. From para 6;1 of the UK submission:
“As a matter of interpretation of the language of Article 10.1, and having regard to the object and purpose of that provision, it is plain that the right “to receive … information … without interference contained in Article 10.1 protects the right to receive information from a person who is willing to impart it. Article 10.1 does not provide a general right of access to information of public interest held by public authorities”.
This point of view matches Mr Dransfield’s experience and observation of the UKs outlook on FOI, and indeed, the very same lawyers from law firm KBW who receive a starkly disproportionate amount of ICO business domestically according to Mr Dransfield’s research, and who have argued against his requests for information relating to public health and safety, were the lawyers appearing in Strasburg to put forward the above point of view.
Some of these same lawyers are also now taking a high profile role in seeking to close down parliamentary scrutiny of Article 50 in Brexit.
Human Rights Obligations
Mr Dransfield’s Open Letter, appropriately published on International Human Rights Day, is a request to return to sanity regarding transparency of public interest information, as the ECHR ruling by the Grand Chamber at 15 votes to 2 that there is indeed an obligation under Article 10 to provide information to those wishing to impart it widely in the public interest. From the Strasburg Observers case summary:
It is nonsense to suggest that the public have no interest in the lack of lightning protection on a sports stadium or bridge, or in other failures to adhere to Health & Safety Directive rules for providing safe public spaces for education, work and relaxation, all matters on which Mr Dransfield has sought, and been refused, information.
The Grand Chamber further decided by 15:2 to clarify matters about the threshold:
The Information Commissioner’s Office
These Human Rights obligations, conflicts of interest, as well as transparency and compliance in procurement practises of HM Government and it’s agencies should be of great interest the new Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, especially as they appear to concur with remarks she made herself at an event marking 250 years of freedom of information held at the Free Word Centre, London on 8th December 2016:
Unfortunately, since her commencement as Commissioner in the summer, Mr Dransfield has tried to address with the Commissioner the inappropriate use of 14.1 “vexatious” to bat away questions of public interest, resulting in his extensive scapegoating, now confirmed by the recent ECHR ruling as unlawful.
At the time of publishing he has received no response.
Should citizens have access to public interest information, whether or not departments want to part with it?
Let us know what you think in the comments.
@Amazonnewsmedia, Alex Goantis, ANM, Article 10, C3/2015/1855 Dransfield v ICO, CASE OF MAGYAR HELSINKI BIZOTTSÁG v. HUNGARY, Eizabeth Truss, Elizabeth Denham, Exeter City Council, FOI, Freedom of Information, GIA/3037/2011 Dransfield v ICO, Grand Chamber, Health and Safety, Human Rights Day, ICO, Information Commissioner's Office, International Human Rights Day, KBW, Lord Chancellor, Open Letter, Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss, Stockport Council