Information Commissioner's Office is at last investigating our HMRC special tax categories FOIA request complaint, after nearly 10 months of delay


From: [generic email address]
To: [email address]
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 16:11:45 +0100

27th July 2009


Dear XXX

Further to our previous correspondence regarding your complaint against HMRC I am writing to inform you that your case has now been allocated to me to investigate. I apologise for the delay that has occurred in allocating the case.

The original complaint to he Information Commissioner's Office was made on 29th September 2008 i.e. 301 days or nearly 10 months ago.

The original FOIA request was made on 29th of January 2008. - see: HMRC tax record special categories - initial FOIA request i.e. nearly 16 18 months ago.

Where possible the Information Commissioner prefers complaints to be resolved by informal means where he deems this appropriate. If this does not prove to be possible, he will usually issue a Decision Notice to you and the public authority once an investigation has been completed. This will inform you of his decision and the reasons for it.

Where the Commissioner decides that a request has not been handled properly he may specify what steps he believes are necessary to remedy the situation. This can include requiring a public authority to release information which has previously been withheld. A copy of the Decision Notice will be placed on our website (with your details omitted). If you disagree with the decision that has been reached you have a legal right of appeal to the Information Tribunal.


On 28 January 2008 you requested information concerning HMRC tax
record Special Categories.

On 6 March 2008, HMRC answered some of your questions and provided a "not held" response in relation to some of the information, but withheld the rest under sections 23, 36(2)(c)and 38(1)(a) and (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act").

HMRC upheld its decision in an internal review which was sent to you on 29 September 2008. You contacted the Commissioner on 29 September 2008 to object to the decision to withhold information under these exemptions. You also brought to the attention of the Commissioner the delays you experienced while HMRC dealt with your request and internal review.


The focus of my investigation will be to determine whether or not HMRC was correct in applying the exemptions with regard to your request for information. During the course of my investigation, I will also consider the timeliness with which HMRC handled your

Please contact me as soon as possible if there are matters other than these that you believe should be addressed. This will help avoid any unnecessary delay in investigating your complaint. If I do not hear from you, my investigation will focus only upon the matters
identified above.

Yours sincerely,

[name of ICO official]

Senior Complaints Officer

FOI Team 2 - Police, Justice and Taxation


Actually, it looks like it's exactly 18 months (not 16) since your original request... Even worse than you thought!

@ GF - thanks for spotting that error - two months should, in theory, be enough time for two entirely separate FOIA requests (each within the statutory 20 working days limit), but as you can see, the vast majority of FOIA requests chronicled here take much, much longer.

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This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

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