A patient recovering from a serious accident wanted to use his motorcycle to attend the hospital. He asked staff where he could park his motorcycle. Hospital staff gave the patient conflicting answers ranging from:
The confused patient looked on the hospital's web site but found nothing about motorcycle parking.
The patient rang the hospital again and was told motorcycle parking was free but no one knew exactly where the motorcycle parking areas were. In exasperation the patient submitted a written Freedom of Information request to the hospital.
Date : Sunday, 06 October 2013
Sheryn Ross, Information Compliance and FOI Manager, Corporate Affairs, Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, emailed the patient
7 October 2013
Your request has been received.
A week later, Sheryn Ross emailed the patient
15 October 2013
Please find attached a Refusal Notice from the Director of Corporate Affairs in response to your most recent FOI request to this Trust dated 6th October (Trust reference FOI 1432). Your request is copied below for reference.
Attached to the email was this official letter from the hospital's chief Spin
Doctor, the self-proclaimed
non-practising barrister Thomas Lafferty
15th October 2013
Re: FOI REQUEST 1432- REFUSAL NOTICE
The Trust has previously acknowledged receipt of your latest FOI request, sent by e-mail on 6th October, regarding motorcycle parking.
The Trust is formally advising you that it is issuing this Refusal Notice to you in accordance with section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Under section 14, it is not necessary for the Trust to carry out a public interest test or to confirm or deny whether the information requested is held.
Explanation for the Trust's Refusal Notice
The Trust has considered and followed the Information Commissioner's guidance regarding vexatiousness. The Trust refers you to this guidance: "Dealing with vexatious requests (section 14)". The guidance may be accessed from the Information Commissioner's website at this address; www.ico.gov.uk.
The Trust is of the view that the following "indicators" referenced within the guidance are engaged:
• 1. Scattergun approach- Your latest request is part of a "random approach", lacking any clear focus. The requests seem to be designed for the purpose of generally "fishing" for information without any idea of what might be revealed, and;
• 2. Frivolous requests- The subject matter in some instances has been trivial and appears to lack any serious purpose.
It is important to note that the latest request from you, in isolation, may not be considered to be vexatious as a stand alone request. However, the Trust has taken into consideration all the previous correspondence received from you over the last few months. Whilst addressing a series of information requests from you, the Trust has noted a pattern of behaviour and has arrived at a "tipping point" where it is has been decided that, whilst it was appropriate to deal with all of your previous requests, the continuation of this behaviour and the frequency of information requests has made the latest request vexatious.
The Trust would like to reassure you that this decision has not been reached lightly and was taken at the highest level of the organisation. If you are unhappy with this decision, you may ask for an internal Review of this decision. The Review would be led by myself and take a maximum of 20 working days. Any request for Review of the Refusal Notice should be sent to the Trust's Freedom of Information office at firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like to formally appeal against our response, you can do so in writing to:
The Information Commissioner
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545700
Web Address: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk
Director of Corporate Affairs
www.heatherwoodandwexham.nhs.uk/who/executive-directors shows Mr Lafferty's details.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) told the Slough Times that between the date the motorcycling patient asked for parking details and the date hospital director Thomas Lafferty's refused to let hospital staff provide parking information, the ICO was not contacted by the hospital about any matter. It seems Mr Lafferty preferred his own 'home-made' advice to that of the more knowledgeable ICO.
On 15 October 2013 the patient asked the hospital for a review of its bizarre refusal decision.
The patient repeated his request for a review on 16 October 2013.
The hospital's FOI (Freedom of Information) Manager Ross Sheryn wrote
Wednesday 16 October 2013
This email formally acknowledges receipt of your request for review of the Refusal Notice issued to you on 15th October.
The Review will be carried out by Thomas Lafferty, Director of Corporate Affairs.
Monday 21 October 2013
You have sought a review of the Refusal Notice dated 10th October. This review is in progress. The Trust is following the FOI Review procedure, and you will receive a response in due course from the Corporate Affairs Director.
But 5.1/2 months later Wexham Park Hospital's chief Spin Doctor, Thomas Lafferty, has failed to announce the result of the independent review by a person unconnected to the original refusal decision.
The patient submitted a complain to a meeting of the hospital's governor held at Wexham Park on Wednesday 12 March 2014.
Question to the Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospital Governors Meeting
I believe I am being repeatedly harassed by the Trust's Director
of Corporate Affairs, Thomas Lafferty. To whom at the Trust can I complain for
an effective remedy and to stop the Trust's (vicarious liability) unlawful
The Director stopped hospital staff telling me, a motorcyclist, about
motorcycling provision at Wexham Park. Written evidence available.
The Director stopped hospital staff giving me the results of the February 2014
governor election. I had to ask a private company for the details despite the
Trust having the results. Written evidence available.
Staff gave the question, not to the chairman but to Thomas Lafferty, the hospital's Director of Corporate Affairs. Mr Lafferty is not a hospital governor. He attended the meeting as an aid to chief executive Philippa Slinger.
Later, during the meeting, Mr Lafferty was seen talking privately to chairman Mike O'Donovan. The chairman neither acknowledged nor answered the question.
The next day an email arrived:
Motorcyclist Parking Provision
I have been advised by the Trust Director of Estates that there are 10-12 motorcycle parking spaces adjacent to the disabled parking areas immediately outside of the Tower Block at Wexham Park Hospital.
In addition, there are additional 6 motorcycle parking spaces outside the Trust's Maternity Department on the other side of the hospital.
February 2014 Governor Elections
I understand that you now have the information you were seeking with regard to the results of the February 2014 Governor elections.
Allegations of 'Harassment' based upon non-disclosure of requested information Given the strength of the language used in one of your questions with regard to the actions of Thomas Lafferty, Director of Corporate Affairs, I asked that Thomas take me through the history of your and his correspondence.
From the evidence available to me, I would concur with the view that, throughout the period referenced above, you have continued to act in a vexatious manner.
I would therefore ask that you discontinue this behaviour.
With regard to seeking 'an effective remedy', the option to refer any residual concerns you have to the Information Commissioner for a decision remains open to you.
www.heatherwoodandwexham.nhs.uk/governors/chairman shows Mr O'Donovan's details.
The Slough Times asked Chairman Mike O'Donovan what independent checks the hospital made to ensure Thomas Lafferty's interpretation of the law that a single request for motorcycle parking details, made by a motorcycling patient, was legally "vexatious".
Staff say the hospital does not have a legal department and has no solicitor
or barrister employees. Mr Lafferty claims to be a
We will publish the Chairman's explanation - if he replies.
Chairman Mike O'Donovan never answered the motorcyclist's original question about safe parking, which was:
It is a good question.
Does a major publicly funded NHS hospital which deals with thousands of motor accident victims every year, provide safe motorcycle parking facilities ?
The Slough Times sent two motorcyclist 'spies' to Wexham Park Hospital to investigate.
to be continued .....