Watchdog rules council data refusal was wrong

Stephen McCormick

Stephen McCormick

First published in News

A COUNCIL was wrong to refuse information to a resident about alleged bullying at a city college, the national information watchdog has ruled.

The Information Commissioner (ICO) said Oxfordshire County Council should not have denied Mike White’s requests about City Of Oxford College.

The council ruled his Freedom of Information Act requests about how allegations of bullying and harassment between students were handled as “vexatious”.

The college – formerly Oxford & Cherwell Valley College – said police investigations in 2009 found “no case to answer” over allegations.

Last September Mr White requested paperwork relating to the number of meetings a council officer had with college leaders.

After another request that month for internal emails, the council – to which he put in eight previous related requests – ruled them vexatious.

The ICO said the council had “concerns that information about a sensitive subject” was being requested for “not absolutely clear” reasons.

Given previous requests it said the two were “effectively unjustified and represent a disproportionate use of council resources in a matter which has been substantively addressed”.

“Scattergun” requests to different staff led to “disruption and duplication” it argued.

But the ICO’s Andrew White said: “Oxfordshire County Council is a large authority and 10 requests over a period of approximately one year does not appear to be excessive.”

They were not for “voluminous” amounts and the council “failed to provide evidence that they would have caused a disproportionate burden”.

He said: “It is difficult for the public to establish what actions were taken as a result of the allegations. Clearly a disclosure of the information requested by the complainant would shed greater transparency over the issue.”

Mr White, 45, who lives in Berkshire said he was made aware of allegations by a friend but was not directly involved before that.

Stephen McCormick, group deputy chief executive of Activate Learning, which runs the college, said allegations were “fully investigated at the time by the college, Thames Valley Police and local authority and there was found to be no case to answer”.

He said: “Around the same time an incident came to light in which a member of staff behaved inappropriately in the company of other staff members. This individual was dismissed according to our disciplinary procedures.”

Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS, SPORT and JAYDEN depending on what services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
Our top stories

Dagenham draw leaves Oxford United boss with mixed emotions

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Monday 1st September 2014

MICHAEL Appleton admitted he had never seen a game so wide open as Oxford United got off the mark with a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw at home to Dagenham & Redbridge.

Two-month amnesty for Oxford council tenants who sublet illegally

Oxford Mail: oxford city council logo

9:00am Monday 1st September 2014

Council tenants illegally subletting their homes are being given the chance to hand back the keys without prosecution.

Oxford grandad killed in Isle of Man motorbike crash 'died doing what he loved'

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Monday 1st September 2014

A former Formula 1 mechanic and Eynsham driving instructor has been killed in a motorbike crash on the Isle of Man.

Police to warn students of 'legal high' risks

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:30am Monday 1st September 2014

NEW students are to be warned by police about the dangers of so-called legal highs.

Theatrical costume charity faces final curtain after 46 years

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 1st September 2014

Wanted: a new home for 7,000 costumes, accessories and props, 3,000sq m or more.

Pub is forced to close after brawls and drug incidents

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Monday 1st September 2014

AN OXFORD pub shut its doors for the last time on Saturday after recent incidents involving violence and drug use.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree