Request for ‘movement log’ and police file
Requester not deprived of right to access official information because he had already received all relevant information—requester not deprived of access to justice because his underlying concerns had been conclusively resolved in a range of forums—vexatious complaint, Ombudsman refuses to investigate
A requester asked the Police for the ‘movement log’ for a particular document, and a particular Police file.
In respect of the former request, the Police advised that there was no ‘movement log’ for the document. As the requester had been advised before, because in Police’s view no criminal offending had occurred, the document was not an exhibit requiring special recording procedures for the purposes of admissibility in a criminal case.
In respect of the latter request, the Police noted that the requester had already received a copy of the file. Because he ‘had been provided with the information to which [he was] entitled in response to numerous and repeated requests over many years’, the Police declined to provide a further copy. The requester complained to the Chief Ombudsman.
The Chief Ombudsman considered the complaint, the Police’s decision, files relating to the requester’s previous complaints to the Ombudsman, and publicly available information concerning litigation to which the requester was a party. He noted, in particular, that the former Ombudsman had in 2012 conducted a page-by-page review of the information held by Police and concluded there was nothing to suggest the Police then held or had ever held any additional relevant information. The Chief Ombudsman concluded that investigating this complaint would be an abuse of process and an injudicious use of the Ombudsman’s and the Police’s limited resources.
The Chief Ombudsman noted that the Police refusal had not deprived the requester of his right to access official information. He had previously been provided with this information. Much of the information was originally sourced from him, so he was well aware of its contents. The only reason he no longer held some of the information was his decision to send it, unsolicited, to the Police. The former Ombudsman was satisfied in 2012 that the Police did not hold any additional relevant information, so this was not a case where further requests might have uncovered material to which the requester had not previously had access.
The Chief Ombudsman also noted that that the Police refusal had not deprived the requester of access to justice. His underlying concerns had been resolved conclusively in proceedings before the Health Practitioner’s Disciplinary Tribunal, the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the District Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The Chief Ombudsman declined to investigate the complaint on the basis that this would be an abuse of process, and the complaint was therefore frivolous or vexatious.
This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.