Council clerk reports Arlesey man to police for harassment over ‘continuous’ Freedom of Information requests
- Credit: Archant
A man has been reported to the police for harassment by a town clerk for sending her “continuous” Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
Arlesey Town Council clerk Elsie Hare reported Mark Newbury to Bedfordshire Police for harassment last month after he sent her 25 FOIs in eight months – around one every two weeks.
Under an act passed in 2000, members of the public have the right to ask public sector organisations for recorded information they have on any subject and the authority must respond within 20 working days.
Mr Newbury, a lifelong Arlesey resident who works as an accountant, said he contacted the clerk to request information about council’s finances in 2013 and has since sent the emails, five of which were reminders because she has not replied.
An email sent to Mr Newbury from Mrs Hare, seen by the Comet, said: “Dear Mark, my answers to your emails never seem to please you, so I suggest you ring me at the office as your questions are never clear.
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“Furthermore, this is to inform you that I have spoken with the police at lunchtime today concerning the continuous number of emails you send to me. I have reported you for harassment. In their investigations the police will also include any others that are putting you up to such behaviour.”
Mr Newbury contacted the police to confirm if he was being investigated. He said: “I had a conversation with a police officer about the whole thing for about an hour and they confirmed that a crime wasn’t committed.
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“I have only requested information about the council’s finances and can’t understand why she would report me to the police for that because it should be public knowledge.
“It’s not even like I sent loads of emails – it’s on average about one every two weeks, that’s hardly harassment.
“It is our tax that pays for the council so it’s our business to know what happens to our money.”
A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said they received a complaint of harassment but on investigation found that no crime had been committed.
The Comet contacted Mrs Hare but she declined to comment.