New case note: Requests for information deemed vexatious
The Chief Ombudsman has published a case note on an investigation following a complaint by a requester about a number of refusals by Inland Revenue to provide information.
Inland Revenue had refused four requests by the complainant under section 18(h) of the Official Information Act because it considered each to be offensive and an abuse of the right to access of official information.
The Ombudsman’s investigation looked at communications between IR and the complainant over the preceding year. During that time, the complainant made 12 requests for information on the same subject. Inland Revenue responded to several requests despite the language of the requests clearly indicating a lack of faith in the actions of Inland Revenue staff.
Following his review of the correspondence, the Ombudsman found the wording of each of the four requests showed an apparent lack of good faith in the responsibilities and functions of Inland Revenue and was offensive and disrespectful to IR staff.
On several occasions the complainant referred to Inland Revenue staff as corrupt, thieves, liars, serial killers, psychopaths, and profiteers.
The complainant also responded to Inland Revenue in Russian, and what was said was considered to be of a derogatory nature, to the point of being considered profanity by most people.
The Ombudsman determined that it is not reasonable to expect an agency to tolerate requests for official information that are aggressive, offensive or abusive. He formed the final opinion that Inland Revenue was entitled to refuse the four requests on the basis that the wording and language of the requests was vexatious.
Read the case note: