Subject: ICO response to request[Ref. IRQ0532897]
31 March 2014Case Reference Number IRQ0532897
Dear Mr Dransfield,

I am writing in reply to your 28 February request for:

“1. An approved copy of your Lightning Risk Assessment for your HQ Premises.
2. Lightning Protection Test Certificates for the last 5 years for the same.”
We have considered your request and while this may be thought to be a request for environmental information, possibly in part 1), it is not immediately clear that the information described is actually environmental information, and the information you are seeking in particular at part 2) is not environmental information. We are therefore dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), but to the extent that it may be considered to be a request for environmental information, the relevant parts of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) will be applied.

Your request is refused as vexatious, under the provisions of section 14(1) of FOIA. For the avoidance of doubt, any environmental information is withheld under the exception at regulation 12(4)(b) of the EIR, that the request is manifestly unreasonable and the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosure. Our reasons, follow.
First, your request follows closely after a series of numerous requests submitted in quick succession. We have previously explained to you that this creates considerable difficulties and disruption for the ICO, and yet you have persisted in submitting numerous requests, even after we have explained both the burden which this action creates and the consequence, which is that the requests are refused as vexatious. We therefore consider that the present request cannot be considered in isolation, and must instead be seen to form part of a pattern of behaviour which has been followed even after we have explained to you why such a pattern is not appropriate or acceptable to the ICO.

Secondly, we consider that your request, and the accompanying remarks (“this is a BRAND NEW request, straightforward and benign, hence, any fair minded person would not understand how you would be able to rely on section 14/1 of the FOIA 2000 or even section 12(4) (b) of the EIRA 2004.”), strongly suggests that this is not primarily an attempt to obtain information, but it appears to us instead to be an attempt to find a topic which the ICO would not or cannot refuse as vexatious. Alternatively, it appears to us to be an attempt to obtain evidence for your hypothesis that the ICO will automatically refuse any request from you as vexatious. We consider that the timing of your request is also relevant in this regard. As we have previously indicated, we consider this to be itself a vexatious action.

Thirdly, we are aware of numerous requests on this subject, to a variety of public authorities. We consider that this might suggest an obsessive interest in this topic and therefore that your request is intended also to find an alternative way to disrupt the activities of the ICO by engaging with it on a subject with which you seem to have an unreasonable preoccupation. We consider it highly likely that any response we could provide to this request would result in further unwelcome and unwarranted correspondence and engagement with the ICO, and that you would be unlikely to undertake that correspondence in a measured, reasonable and respectful manner.

The general tenor of your wider correspondence and requests is often confrontational, insulting and frequently causes annoyance to the ICO staff receiving it. Again, we have previously drawn your attention to the ICO’s Managing Customer Contacts Procedure:

A failure to abide by the standards of behaviour expected by this procedure is likely to result in the ICO adopting measures within the procedure, for the management of your contact with the ICO. It has already been explained to you that we will take into account your use of derogatory language, and our request to you to refrain from using it, when considering any future requests to our office. While the present request may not be couched in overtly derogatory or insulting terms, as previously mentioned your requests cannot be taken in isolation and should be viewed within the context of your overall dealings with the ICO. It is our view that recent correspondence received by the ICO from you shows no apparent attempt to moderate your language or tone.

To the extent that your request is for environmental information, we consider the request to be manifestly unreasonable for the reasons explained above, and that the public interest in dealing with a manifestly unreasonable request is inherently low. We further consider that the public interest in the ICO not having to expend its limited resources engaging with you on this matter, and in not exposing its staff to the abusive, offensive or insulting correspondence associated with your requests, outweighs any public interest in disclosure of the information.

We wish to make clear that, under the provisions of section 17(6) of FOIA, the ICO is not obliged to respond to a request if:
it considers that the request is vexatious;
the requester has previously received a refusal notice for a previous vexatious request:
and it would be unreasonable to expect it to issue another one.

You have now received several refusal notices explaining our reasons why your requests have been refused as vexatious. We consider that you are aware of the ICO’s reasons for refusing your requests, and it does not seem that you have adapted the pattern of correspondence in any way. We therefore consider that providing additional notices will not be of benefit to you, or to the ICO and therefore we have reached the view that it will not be reasonable to issue them. If you continue to submit requests, we will consider them on their own merits, but if we conclude that the request is vexatious you will not receive any acknowledgement or response. For the avoidance of doubt, I will summarise briefly the main reasons why your requests continue to be considered vexatious. Our reasons include, but are not limited to:
The volume and frequency of requests, and the associated burden of dealing with them;
The language and tone of the requests, associated correspondence or remarks, and its effect on the staff receiving them;
The purpose (or lack of) of your requests – each request is considered on its own merits but where the ICO considers that the request is not intended genuinely to obtain information, but is instead a further attempt to force engagement with the ICO, this is considered to be vexatious;
and Attempts to revisit matters which the ICO has previously dealt with and considers closed.

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 Customer 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.

Yours sincerely

Steven Dickinson Lead Information Governance Officer