Uncle Eric Pickles and DCLG have decided to to decalre my recent FoI requests vexatious. I challenged this and requested an internal review. The outcome of this was recently published here:
I have decided to respond to this but doubt if I will receive a reply - see below. So Derek Tickles may be dead to DCLG, Never mind, I am sure we will think of ways in which to continue putting requests to them. Derek will lives on.
Thank you for conducting the internal review. I know you are a busy person and appreciate the effort you have put in. I have admired your professionalism and understand your letter if the view of the department and not your own. I do wish to contest some of your assertions though:
1. I would not describe myself as obsessive, unless you are describing my behaviours in relation to my sock draw, which I hope you are not. As you state, I have submitted 29 requests in 10 months; so approx 3 a month. DCLG is a large, powerful and important department and the Great Uncle Eric has called for an Army of Armchair auditors to hold public bodies to account. Is there an upper limit on the number of FoI requests that DCLG have in mind? I would hardly describe my requests as a barrage, more like an opening salvo perhaps?
2. I would argue that including, what you describe as satire, is not a sign of being obsessive; my purpose is simply to provide context in an engaging manner. Some people in DLCG may not like the tone but many people do and I have received positive feedback from colleagues via twitter, email and directly. My blog currently probably receives 10 times more visitors than the DCLG barrier busting website!!
3. My understanding is that there is no evidence that I have caused distress or harassment to DCLG staff. This has been confirmed by a FoI request - see: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/vexatious_tickles#incoming-158298
Do you have any new evidence that you wish to share? How about conducting a staff survey?
4. I do appreciate the word ‘spadstic’ may be seen as offensive and with hindsight should not have included it in the request but saved it for the blog. I have tried to be careful not to offend, I would hate be criticised that my FoI career is based on incompetence!
5. I would argue that my requests are not burdensome. I have requested information under the Freedom of Information Act and you are legally obliged to provide the information. I have been careful to ensure that my requests usually are achievable within the legal resource limits. In many cases I know it should take less than 5 minutes to answer the requests. In some instances I have the information on my PC but wish to see it in the public domain. I am surprised that DCLG rhetoric is to promote transparency but appear to keen to block access to information.
6. I agree I poke fun at Eric Pickles (he is a big target), Ministers and SpAds, but so what! They have insulted, abused and derided civil servants, local authorities and named individuals directly or through the press. I am sure they have a thick skins (as well as skulls). Are they really upset? if so I say did-dums.
7. All my requests have serious purpose. Sometimes DCLG may not be aware of the purpose and sometimes you may not like it. As you may have realised the general themes are the lack of evidence behind policy and lack of transparency… oh and that I don’t like Nick Sheridan-Westlake - nothing professional purely personal.
8. I do not make FoI request for fun or to cause mischief (sic) . I have better things to do with my life, wife and children. But I feel I have public duty to try to hold the SoS, Minister and SpAds to account for the current behaviour.
9. I note that you are amongst the hundreds who read my blog. Is it true I heard a giggle from you whilst you were doing your research? Whilst I am flattered you trouble yourself to read it but I am baffled to what bearing it has on me being declared vexatious. Would you care to explain?
10. DCLG have stated that all future requests from Derek Tickles will be declared vexatious. I am currently seeking legal advice and may challenge this with the ICO. In the meantime I know that others will take up the cause and continue to submit FoI requests that will hold DCLG to account.
Loving yer work,