Thursday, April 05, 2007

ICO backs BBC in refusing to answer vexatious requests

ICO press release 4 April 2007:
The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has ruled that the BBC was justified in refusing requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that the requests were vexatious.

Following the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act in January 2005, the BBC received approximately 90 requests relating to the authority’s hospitality expenditure and employee expenses claims during a short period of time. The public authority refused these requests as they were considered vexatious.

The Information Commissioner agreed that the requests were vexatious for a number of reasons: the volume of requests had the effect of harassing the public authority and some members of staff with whom the complainant had corresponded. In addition the Commissioner ruled that the requests could be characterised as obsessive.

Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner said: “While giving full support to individuals seeking to exercise the right to know responsibly, the ICO is sympathetic towards public authorities receiving specific requests which impose a heavy burden on their resources, particularly where the public interest in the disclosure of the information is limited. The Freedom of Information Act recognises that there are limits to compliance beyond which public authorities are not obliged to go and we encourage the appropriate use of these provisions by public authorities.”

The Commissioner requires no further steps to be taken, but either party has the right to appeal against this Decision Notice to the Information Tribunal. Any notice of appeal should be served on the Tribunal within 28 calendar days of the date on which the Decision Notice is served.

For a copy of the decision notice, go to


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