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URGENT: Data Protection Act 1998 Breach...

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  • URGENT: Data Protection Act 1998 Breach...

    ...by two organisations (confirmed by ICO), suggestions on what if anything I can do next?

    Hello again LegalBegagles!

    I am looking for some advice on what I am able to do about the matter that I am going to try and explain in as much detail as possible.

    I have a keen interest in astronomy, doing a lot of research in my time in the many years I have had internet access. I joined an astronomy society, one of two that I know of in Norfolk, namely Norwich Astronomical Society ("NAS") located on Toad Lane, Thwaite St. Mary, near Norwich in around November 2011, and was a member until around October 2012 when I was asked not to renew my membership. The reasons given were somewhat confusing but seem to boil down to one of the members not liking me for whatever reason and as a result, from my perspective, seems to have been on a malicious campaign to have me booted out, even fabricating some nonsense alledging that I had told another member to "f**k off" when I have documentary evidence from the chairman at the time that the individual concerned stated that I never said anything like it. Anyway, to cut a long story short, that was one of many false allegations perpetrated by one member of that society that I cannot name here, but I do know her name.

    In February 2014, I contacted another society, Breckland Astronomical Society ("BAS"), located near Ellingham, in Norfolk to enquire about joining them. To begin with they were friendly, and I thought I was going to be accepted as a member after a few visits, making some jokes, laughing, and trying to be a normal member of the public as it were. On 3rd October 2014, I recieved an email from the then chairman saying "due to your unfortunate condition, unfortunately, membership of the society would not be suitible for you. The committee have carefully considered your application and decided that in the best inetersts of yourself and the society, it should be rejected." I am no expert, but it seems that this society has just blatantly admitted to discrimination? From the email I recieved, and from the emails I later recieved of an exchange between NAS and BAS, they admit that they banned me and the email from 3/10/14 actually proves that this is because of my "condition".

    On 31st January, I visited the Norwich Astronomical Society hoping that they had put the past behind them as it had been some time since I had been there. I visited to see a "super blue blood moon" ("SBBM") that was actually forecast to happen early the next morning at around 2:20am. I was excited as I had never seen one before. And because I live in Norwich, I cannot really see much due to light pollution. When I arrived, I noticed that ITV Anglia were filming there and decided to wait outside. After around 5 minutes of waiting, I spotted a member emerging from one side of the clubhouse (namely the toilets) and proceeding to enter the main clubhouse door. I stopped him and asked to speak to the chairman. A tall male with a dark coloured hooded long coat appeared claiming to be the chairman (I now know that he is not the chairman but in fact the secretary) and asked what the problem was. I stated as above that I was wondering if I could hang around for the SBBM, and if he was OK with that. He recognised me somehow, and asked me if I was "Thomas XXXXXXX" which I obviously confirmed I was. I am guessing he recognised me from my motorcycle which was parked behind me around 15 feet away. After I confirmed who I was, he launched in to what I would describe as a verbal assault saying that I was banned, prohibited, forbidden and that if I did not leave, he would call the police and have me arrested for tresspass. I was briefly in a state of shock at this point, but I still kept my cool with him and asked why I was banned as I was unaware of any ban at that time (I am still not aware of any ban to this day as it has not been confirmed, but seems to be in place never the less, even though they have not stated it). He then accused me of "swearing" at another member which is absolutely false and I have documentary evidence to prove that this is an utter fabrication of the highest order. To avoid being arrested for some made up nonsense like "trespassing", I hopped on my bike and started to reverse out but did not start it. As I did so, I clearly heard the secretary call me a "f**king retard". I responded by calling him an "a**hole". He answered me by saying "I heard that" and I responded by saying "good, that's what you get for calling me a f**king retard". Secretary walked away in to the clubhouse saying nothing further. I backed out parking on the other side of a PUBLIC ROAD calling a friend to try and calm my absolute rage at him at this stage, although I did not show it to him directly. I spend about an hour on the phone to 2 different friends and afterwards I took off home. On 2nd February 2018, I filed a complaint by email directly to the chairman who, in his response seems to be saying that he cannot prove that the events I have stated and is esstentially calling me a liar, and supporting the secretary (which emails between them seem to suggest) where in one of them the line "he got short order from our chairman". This is because he was able to fabricate a tweet from my Twitter account where he changed the code to replace "idiots" with "retards" and then used it to make out that I said it. It was a tweet that I sent to Parking Eye Ltd ("PE") after they were demanding £75 to provide the police with data relating to a hit and run incident where my motorcycle was hit causing damage while it was parked up and unattended in an ASDA car park and the police asked PE for the data of vehicle registration numbers for a set time period. As a result of this, the police did not pursue it any further.

    Fast forward...

    I made a subject access request on May 5th 2018 to both societies with a set list of documents that I was after. I recieved an acknowledgment from both societies after several days and I waited for them to come through, sending consistent reminders so that they did not forget the obligations that they were under under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 ("DPA") . I did not get a response from NAS until 7th June 2018 which came in the post from thier solicitor via special/recorded delivery. I found several documents that I asked for missing and wrote back by email to ask for them again. I did not recieve a reply. I tried again, no reply. I recieved an email from BAS on or about 9th June 2018 attaching some very interesting information including, confirming that the two societies had been exchanging emails between them about me. I requested copies of those emails and was told that they were exempt from disclosure. I did not believe this, so I requested them again, and got an almost identical answer.

    As a result of this, I contacted the Information Commisioners Office ("ICO") and filed a formal complaint against both societies for breaching my rights under the DPA and believed that the two concerned societies had been discussing my details without my express permission. BAS tried to claim "legitimate interest" as a rather poor excuse for what they did, and the ICO has written to me stating that both societies had not complied with the DPA under shedule 2. After seeing the emails myself, it also appears that they tried to withhold them as it contains defamation against my name and did not want to face a court claim for defamation of character.

    After recieving the ICO's decision, I wrote to the two societies again asking for them to propose a resolution. I recieved a reply from BAS within 10 minutes attaching the email chain between the two aformentioned societies and saying that they had implemented the changed reccomended by the ICO. I have yet to recieve any response from NAS.

    Given what is a reasonably short version of what has happened, are there any legal experts here that can suggest on what my next steps are please?
    Last edited by «THÖMÅS®©™»; 17th November 2018, 04:31:AM.

  • #2
    I have read your long post, and I am confused. You have at last, after much arm twisting, got the information you were after. You got it from one Society, not both, but you got it, nevertheless. In what way does it benefit you to get the same information from the other one?

    You need to work out what you're trying to achieve. You can't really force these people to accept you, I am afraid, and the law is a blunt tool to use in these circumstances. Ultimately, if you make life too difficult for the people running these clubs, they'll close down, I suppose.

    So, could you say what outcomes you want out of all this?


    • #3
      Thank you for your response 2222.

      I am trying to get an apology from both for defaming my character by lying about what happened, and secondly, some sort of relief for breaching my rights under the DPA 1998 shedule 2. The ICO has told me that under GDPR, articles 79 and 82, I am entitled to some form of relief. Furthermore: relief for discrimination under aticles 6 and 20 of the Equality Act 2010, although this is not likely to succeed based on a possible defence that they will fabricate that they cannot make reasonable ajustments which I am not convinced is correct.

      I would also like to make clear that this is not beeing done for money, I am doing it out of principle, and nothing more.
      Last edited by «THÖMÅS®©™»; 17th November 2018, 04:33:AM.


      • #4
        My own view is to forget about any claim under the DPA. It's a tool for getting information. You've got that info now, and any compensation awarded by the court for late provision would be minimal. I'm sure that both organisations are actually sorry for any misdemeanours under the act. They may even have had the best of intentions in withholding this information, in that they did not want to hurt your feelings.

        As to BAS, you say they have lied about you, but that's not clear to me from your posting. They just seem to have thought you were not suitable as a member.

        What is not clear is whether BAS came to the conclusion that you had a condition and only subsequently contacted NAS to find out what your history with them was? That would imply you had behaved oddly in some way, which could perhaps justify them in excluding you regardless of anything said by NAS. The alternative is that somebody at BAS knew you from NAS and soured things for you, even though you were getting on okay. Do you know which it is? Is it clear from the email chain?

        You claim that NAS did lie, but they have a documented case. Even if the evidence given to them was fabricated, as you claim, they seem to think it is reliable. Based on that, they excluded you from membership. (I am not sure how that differs from banning you?) I am not sure whether DPA would prevent them from communicating their findings, if asked by BAS. Have the ICO ruled on that?

        If the NAS have defamed you, you could sue them for that, but you would be at great risk of a substantial costs order against you if you lost. I'm not convinced the potential award could possibly justify the risk.

        I have a very strong feeling you cannot get 'justice' in this case. You might succeed in closing one or both clubs down, eventually, but I don't see how you can force people to accept you.


        • #5
          I think there is a misunderstanding from my original post. The ICO has ruled that both societies have breached the Data Protection Act 1998 because they shared information between themselves for which no exceptions applied nor did they have my permission to do so.

          2222, can I speak to you in private as I don't want to disclose medical data on this board publicly. I am sure you can appreciate that.


          • #6
            Hi Thomas.

            You are quite right. I had not appreciated that the ICO has ruled that data has been wrongly shared. I take it that they have not ordered the societies to compensate you for that? The ICO seems to be particularly toothless, I am afraid. You have done remarkably well to get them to come this far!

            Would you be satisfied if the two societies made a donation to charity? Possibly the British Astronomical Society, if that's appropriate. That might be the line of least resistance, plus you say you're not particularly interested in the dosh personally.

            I think it is a great shame that this has happened. You are obviously hugely keen on astronomy and very probably have a great deal of knowledge to share. I hope that, in time, you can mend fences with one or both societies. However, I am practically certain that suing them will not help that!

            In particular, I would hope that BAS could be persuaded in the long term to review whether they could make whatever adjustments are necessary to accommodate your membership, perhaps on a part-time basis if they feel it is too much for them if you attend every meeting.

            I don't think you should send me any private medical details. Please don't take that as me being unfriendly, but I just don't think it would be entirely appropriate.


            • #7
              2222, I feel that after what they have been saying and doing to me, that I have no choice but to seek relief from both of them. They tried to withhold the emails between them knowing what they had breached the DPA as the ICO has confirmed in their email to me.

              The chances of any sort of review happening is virtually zero, and I doubt that they will consider it based on what I have seen so far.

              I have tried to be reasonable by asking them for a proposal to resolve the issue. One has given me the proverbial middle finger, and the other has not bothered to respond, which shows that they are stubborn and ignorant, as well as uneducated. This is not my fault.
              Last edited by «THÖMÅS®©™»; 20th November 2018, 00:10:AM.


              • #8
                Since I have not had a reply for a few days now, I will ask if there is anything that anyone here at this forum can assist me?


                • #9
                  I am starting to wonder why I am being ignored now...


                  • #10
                    Sometimes people just don't have the answers or are unable to advise
                    I work for Wannops LLP . I give my free time available to helping other on the forum and would be happy to try and assist informally where needed. Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any advice I provide is without liability.

                    If you need to contact me please email me on Ptilley@wannops.com .

                    I have been involved in leading consumer credit and data protection cases including Harrison v Link Financial Limited (High Court), Grace v Blackhorse (Court of Appeal) and also Kotecha v Phoenix Recoveries (Court of Appeal) along with a number of other reported cases and often blog about all things consumer law orientated.

                    You can also follow my blog on consumer credit here.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by «THÖMÅS®©™» View Post
                      I am starting to wonder why I am being ignored now...
                      You can commence proceedings for a breach under the DPA. You made it clear that is what you intend to do, so I'm not clear what you're asking?


                      • #12
                        Well, I was hoping for help on writing an LBA first, so I cannot be accused of anything, and I am sure they will try and fabricate something to make them look good as they have done for years now. Thats what I am trying to say.


                        • #13
                          You just recite the findings of the IC. Then you ask for compensation. You need to set the amount realistically. Nobody here can really help you with that, as we don't know precisely what was said. I suggested a modest sum, but you rejected that advice.

                          You need to research the court awards in other cases, but I expect you may be disappointed that realistically you are not entitled to much.

                          I am not sure whether your claim under the equality act should be done separately. I think it is separate, but there's a connection. So, there may not be a definite answer.

                          I made it clear already, did I not, that I think you are on a complete hiding to nothing. You will not get any satisfaction. Even if you wring an apology out of the clubs, I think you have sufficient insight to realise that they won't mean it.


                          • #14
                            This is why I am also going to be asking for compensation, if they mean it, they will offer it.

                            I have prepared my LBA's, I can post it here of course omitting the personal details of myself and the chairmans addresses since I dont want to be done for a DPA breach myself.


                            • #15
                              Of course, please do post the LBA.


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