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Alan Dransfield's Blog

Freedom of Information and Health and Safety

This blog is aimed at shaming those who ignore health and safety and those who abuse the Freedom of Information Act out of laziness, corruption or to cover up incompetence.

Worrying lack of transparency

Information Commissioner Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 11:48:38

Case Reference Number IRQ0499734

Dear Mr Dransfield
Request for Information

Further to our acknowledgement, we are now in a position to provide you with a response to your request for information dated 31 May 2013.

As you know we have dealt with your request in accordance with your ‘right to know’ under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which entitles you to be provided with a copy of any information ‘held’ by a public authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.


In your e-mail of 31 May 2013 you asked us to provide you with the following information:

‘Please provide me with the following information related to the recent publication of the New 37 Page Vexatious Request documentation, published 15th May2013.

1.Who made the final decision that New Criteria and guidance was required.

2.Copies of all letters, emails ,internal memos on any related issue with the New 37 Page document.

3.Total Costs for the documentation

4.Who from the ICO authorised this document.

5.Was the 37 page document reviewed by the ICO Legal Department, if so please provided the approved Legal Advisor’s signature.

6. Did the ICO consult any 3rd parties on this new vexatious document, if so please provide copies of such consultation.

7. Did the ICO consult the Upper Tribunal or the Department of Justice before they published the 37 page vexatious guidelines, if so please provide letter or email both ways.

8. Please provide any documentation or instruction you may hold which Authorises ICO Officers or ICO Barristers to Compile Final Decision Notices for approval signatures of the Upper Tribunals Final Decision Notices.’

Response to request

In this instance we have decided to refuse to provide you with the information you are requesting under section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). This refusal has been made having carefully considered the ICO’s new and recently published guidance on the application of section 14 FOIA,

Section 14 of FOIA is intended to protect public authorities from those who might abuse the right to request information. It states:

‘14.—(1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply
with a request for information if the request is vexatious.’

The ICO’s new guidance explains that when deciding on whether or not a request is vexatious, the key question to be asked is, ‘…whether the request is likely to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress.’

There can be a number of indicators which point to a request being vexatious. Further to these, a public authority is able to take into account its previous dealings with a requestor.

In this situation we believe that there is an over-arching theme which runs through a number of your requests to the ICO. At least 12 of your requests, in the ICO’s opinion, can be linked to this theme.

You made a complaint to us regarding Devon County Council’s (DCC) decision to apply section 14(1) FOIA to a request of yours. This complaint led to the issuing of a decision notice under section 50 FOIA, upholding the application of section 14(1) by DCC. You subsequently appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal, which upheld your appeal. The ICO appealed that decision to the Upper Tribunal, it upheld the ICO’s appeal.

All 12 of these requests relate either directly to your original complaint, to the subsequent appeals, to those involved in the complaint and appeals process and to the ICO’s relationship and dealings with the Information Rights Tribunal (please see appendix at the end of this response for the full list of requests). Ultimately all of these requests stem from your dissatisfaction with the decisions in relation to your complaint made to the ICO and Upper Tribunal and your belief that the ICO’s application of section 14(1) FOIA is incorrect and, as you have stated, our newly produced guidance is unlawful.

Your persistence in this matter, despite the binding conclusion of the Upper Tribunal, can be fairly characterised as an attempt to re-open an issue that has clearly already been dealt with. This is particularly the case when considering the legal standing of the Upper Tribunal’s decision and the fact that to some extent it has informed our new guidance on section 14 FOIA.

Further to this, you have made complaints about the conduct of the members of staff at the ICO who dealt with your complaint and the appeals process, none of which have been substantiated. It is clear that such complaints could cause irritation and distress to those individuals to which the complaints relate. For example, in an email of yours to a member of the ICO’s legal department, Richard Bailey, of 4 June 2012 you stated the following:

‘I wish to introduce the Fraud Act 2006 for my forthcoming TEST CASE and I seek the UT permission to use it please.
The Fraud Act 2006 is relevant to the TEST CASE because there is prima facie evidence on record that BOTH the ICO Solicitor Richard Bailey and the DCC have knowingly and wilfully submitted false and misleading information to the Upper Tribunal to assist the passage of fraud by the DCC and to Pervert the Course of Justice.’

This can be seen further in the way you have corresponded with staff, using language which goes beyond that which is necessary. For example, in an email to the ICO of 9 October 2012, you wrote the following:

‘I don’t wish you to respond to me Sir, I wish you to elevate my complaint against Richard Bailey and YOU to your Line Manager, that is assuming you do have a superior and don’t answer directly to GOD??!!’

Although this is not overtly offensive, in that it does not use profane language, the tone can perhaps be viewed as at least disrespectful.

Although you clearly believe that your complaints are valid with regards to these individuals and the conclusion of the complaint process, your persistence and your inability to accept our decision, one which has been accepted by an independent body (the Upper Tribunal) has eroded what serious purpose there was to your requests.

Following on from this, the necessity of the ICO’s Information Governance department having to deal with continued requests on this theme, despite the erosion of their serious purpose and when it is clear that the answers which are provided are not accepted, is having a detrimental impact on the ability of Information Governance to carry out its day-to-day work. It takes staff away from core work which they could be doing.

It is for these reasons that the ICO believes your request to be vexatious and as such, we do not feel we are obliged to respond to it.

I would also like to point out that any further requests which relate to the theme identified in this refusal notice, will remain unanswered.

Review Procedure

I hope this response sets out clearly our position in relation to this request. If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received and wish to request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how your request has been handled you should write to the Information Governance Department at the address below or e-mail

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40 working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the Commissioner.

If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint handler under the legislation. To make such an application, please write to the First Contact Team, at the address below or visit the ‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.

A copy of our review procedure is available here.

Yours sincerely

Richard Sisson
Lead Information Governance Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.


Case reference Date request responded to
IRQ0348676 07/10/2010
IRQ0418919 10/10/2011
IRQ0422607 25/11/2011
IRQ0425475 07/12/2011
IRQ0442220 25/04/2012
IRQ0445041 16/05/2012
IRQ0451438 03/07/2012
IRQ0462223 30/08/2012
IRQ0492855 15/04/2013
IRQ0496854 05/06/2013
IRQ0497021 06/06/2013
IRQ0497040 10/06/2013

Weil’s Disease

College Climbing Centre Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 11:41:35

Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 6:57 AM


Dear Mr Bradshaw

I have now submitted a formal complaint to the HSE via the HSE online report forms ref the DCC failure to ensure Weils Disease Risk Assessment is carried out before children and students undertake outdoor /water activities at the Haven Banks Centre.

As you are aware Mr Bradshaw, the vicinity in which these water activities take place include the basin, which is stagnant water and synonymous to Leptospirois (Weils Desease).

I see young children and students on a daily basis wearing no shoes whilst under the Instruction of the DCC teachers.

As a former Environmental Minister, I am sure you are aware that Weil’s Desease shows similar symptoms to common ‘flu, hence all participants taking part in these water activities should be advised of such symptoms and dangers and the required mitigation methods, i.e.

1. Do not fully submerge you head/body underwater.

2. Shower after use.

3. Protect cuts and grazes with plaster.

4. Wear shoes/trainers/gloves at all times.

Please see the following extract from the Devon and Cornwall Police Health and Safety Policy:

15.2 Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease)

15.2.1 Leptospirosis is an uncommon disease caused by a bacterium usually

transmitted via the urine of infected rodents, foxes, cattle and pigs. Most force

staff are not considered to be at risk of this disease at work unless they enter

sewers, drainage, derelict buildings, but the Underwater Search Unit and

some specialist search team staff who take part in wading and sewer

searches might be at greater risk. All police divers have been issued with

warning cards for their general practitioners. Specialist advice should be

sought from the OHSU.

Obviously the local constabulary take Weil’s Disease VERY SERIOUSLY and I believe the DCC are completly and wilfully ignorant of such matters.

Quite frankly Mr Bradshaw, it beggars belief the DCC are conducting such activity in stagnant waters without warning or advising mitigation methods via a professional risk assessment. In the construction industry, Principal Contractors are required to ensure Wiel’s Desease forms part of the Risk assessment and employees are required to sign for the risk assessment.

I have no doubt that the DCC have no risk assessment for lightning dangers either during these water activities and the last place you want to be during a thunderstorm is in the water or a canoe.

Your consistent failures on these matters must be interpretative as you condoning such actions.

I consider that OFSTED are failing their duty of care by their failure to identify this matter.

I fully appreciate that water activity on the Main River Exe do not offer significant risk to Weils Disease because the water is free flowing but no so in the Basin. Nothwithstanding this fact, I fervently believe that Ofsted and the DCC are failing their duty of care by the risk assessment failures.

With thanks

Yours sincerely

Alan M Dransfield

Gas, LPS and Weil’s disease dangers

College Climbing Centre Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 11:37:57

Dear Mr Bradshaw

As you are aware, I have reported the subject title to the Principle Contractor and to the HSE via their electronic reporting forms dated 12 /7/13. To date nobody has contacted me or acknowledged my complaint.

You are also aware that this new Climbing Centre has now been commissioned and being used by the general public. You are also aware that this new climbing centre has not been provisioned with Lightning Protection Systems in accordance with BS-EN62305/2008; hence there are two major H&S i.e. gas and LPS.

In actual fact, there are three (3) major H&S issues on these premises, the 3rd one being the failure to provide Weils disease risk assessment for the general public and DCC Instructors.

I would be grateful if you would write to the HSE and ask them why they haven’t responded to my online report ref F250G2 dated 12 July 2013.

Would you also ask the HSE why they haven’t responded to my online complaint form F2508 (12/7/13) ref Cowick Street Building Site without debris netting.

With thanks

Yours sincerely

Alan M Dransfield

Slippery steps

College Climbing Centre Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 11:32:46

Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 2:17 PM


Dear Mr Bradshaw

Please see the photo of the subject title and as the photo clearly shows the finish level is running towards the 3 steps, which means all the rain run-off water will cascade down the steps and into the basin, which is all well and good from an environmental point of view but it means that the steps will be wet during wet periods and cause a possible H&S slip issue.

This area is approx 200 mt 2; hence a substantial amount of run-off water is expected to run off this paved area.

Any designer with half a brain would have included an Aco Drain at the top of the steps. Having said that, we are talking about the DCC and Midas Construction; hence, no Aco Drain and a host of other irregularities and anomalies. In the far left hand corner you might just see the infamous connection which is NOT accessible in the event of an emergency.

Would you like to meet me at this climbing centre sometime Mr Bradshaw and I can show you my concerns and complaint first hand?

With thanks

Yours sincerely


Again, concern for the public purse

PFI Schools Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 11:28:14

Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2013 6:51 AM


Dear Mr Bradshaw

I must express my concerns for your choice of correspondence,i.e, I note you prefer the use of hard copy correspondence delivered by post.

As a former Environmental Minister, I would have envisaged that you would have used electronic correspondence to your constituents because it is cheaper, quicker and more environmental friendly.

We have over 600 MP’s nationwide; hence, can you imagine the costs for stationary, postage etc, if all MPs chose this mode of correspondence?

Why hasn’t the Government gone paperless?

With thanks

Yours sincerely

Alan M Dransfield

Clearance between the public and wind turbines

Windfarms Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 08:34:46

Email sent 31/7 2013 07.23

Dear Mr Bradshaw

Please see this photograph of a recently installed wind turbine in Leeds and I am very concerned that that the minimum safety buffer zone has not been met. If my memory serves me correctly, the buffer zone is 2km. I appreciate this is outside your remit, but I would be grateful if you would raise this matter with the appropriate oversight authority. Has the world gone bonkers by approving planning permission for these monsters without safety buffer zones?

Whilst I have your attention on wind turbines, would you please contact the HSE and ask them for a copy of the report into the two WT which collpased in January this year.

With thanks

Alan Dransfield

Cost saving suggestion, as ever with an eye on the public purse

Information Commissioner Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 08:30:14

Attn Mr Chris Grayling. Secretary of State for Justice

Dear Sir

I wish to point out a situation with the ICO /FTT and Upper Tribunal Courts where a considerable sum of Money could be saved from the Public Purse in relations to FOIA Costs.

At this Juncture, is not standard operating procedure for the ICO/FTT & UT to request a copy of the sought-after information via a closed bundle when disputes become active, i.e. appeals to the ICO from public authority decisions.

If closed bundles became obligatory at ICO caseworker level, there would be a considerable cost saving to the public purse. I have two FOIA cases which have been running for 4 years without any requests for closed bundles. In particular, I refer to GIA/3037/2011 and EA2010/0152 – the former now before the Court of Appeal.

I also have another FOIA case against the ICO and the Olympic Delivery Authority in which the FTT Registrar has requested a closed bundle of the sought after data from day one.

I am but a mere layman but I feel if closed bundle became SOP to at least the ICO caseworker or ICO Solicitor level, a quicker resolution could be reached thus saving millions of pounds of public funds.

In such austere times, I believe any proposal to save public funds should be investigated. I believe my proposals would save millions of pounds of taxpayers money and Free up HM Courts on FOIA Cases.

For your information action and files

With thanks

Yours sincerely

Alan M Dransfieldf

Devon’s biggest pothole?

Devon County Council Posted on Tue, March 18, 2014 08:25:26

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