The Original - "Solicitors from Hell"
The Information Commissioner

Mr Jonathan Gray Compliance Officer
The Information Commissioner Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

16 June 2004 . .

Your ref: RFA0029621

Dear Sir

Re: Data Protection Act

Thank you for your letter dated 2 June and yes I am "frustrated" at your "assessment" but not deterred. Let me quote a statement by Lord Falconer that I have made many, many times; "a complainant is somebody who doesn't quite understand the process, therefore must be wrong". I'm sure when he said that even he was not aware of how deep rooted this belief was.

First of all Lord Falconer's office stated there are a "set of enforceable rules" known, I believe, as the 'eight principles', one rule concerns that of 'security' a second of 'processed for limited purposes' (The term "processed" covers the obtaining, holding, use and disclosure of data.). If you look at the 'ATTENDANCE NOTE' I have once again enclosed you will clearly see information was passed by the OSS/Data Controller over the telephone to somebody that they could only assume were who they said they were. Let me quote part of your letter regarding the passing of data to my, at the time, solicitors "We will have to reveal your information to the firm of solicitors you have complained about". The point here is the information in question was 'requested' over the telephone by my solicitors, not "revealed" in the normal course of events and if again you look at the letter written by Tula Fitzpatrick to the OSS both were aware that my file was not yet 'live' and clearly should not have been plundered for the personal gain of my solicitors. Please remember there are strict rules for the collection of data/information and also for the refusal of 'unrelated' data being 'collected'.

Second regarding Richard Hegarty, let me run through what happened with the Chair of the Compliance Board the facts of which you are aware of and you state "…appears to be in compliance with the Act".

    1. I wrote to the Chair of the Compliance Board because the Client Care Agreement was not being complied with and I could not get the issue addressed. At first I was ignored but I persisted.
    2. I received a letter from Richard Hegarty refusing to be involved and referring to me as a "disgruntled complainant" to which I replied and no further response was forthcoming.
    3. During the evening of 6th November '03 I received a 'phone call from Richard Hegarty who was very annoyed about my web site and he used the word 'defamatory' which I replied that it was all based on true facts and suggested he should sue me. This was not Law Society business but solely personal and Richard Hegarty should not have used his position to access my personal information for his personal use.
    4. I wrote to Richard Hegarty asking him from what source he had collected my home telephone number and the name of my business which were personal information and not related to my complaint against Thos Boyd Whyte. I believe he should have replied within 40 working days, there was no response.
    5. I sent a complaint to the OSS who themselves have deviated from the rules regarding their investigation, have closed my case and failed to tell me if I can appeal also they have not informed me of my rights to go to the LSO.

May I further quote you "…contact information disclosed by The Office for the Supervision of Solicitors to the Chair of the Compliance Board is The Law Society" Richard Hegarty already had my home address so why did he need further "contact information"???. What you are saying is that the Chair of the Compliance Board, whoever it happens to be, can at any time over the telephone (unsecured) 'phone the OSS and request personal information for their own personal use. However if Richard Hegarty was conducting 'Law Society' business you would expect that he would have contacted the OSS for information, remember he already had my address. So tell me why did he request information from elsewhere and not the OSS (see copy of Aman Virk's letter dated 7 May that I sent to you)???

The disclosure of information in a complaint to the OSS is, I believe, a 'two-way street', so tell me why the OSS are refusing to supply me with any response from Richard Hegarty and also why in the case of my solicitors, as the rules state they should, did they not inform me at the time, 14 months before my file was allotted to a Caseworker, that data was being collected, by whom and for what purpose also why did the OSS and the LSO ignore my request for answers? As Richard Hegarty must have collected my personal information from either my ex-solicitors, Thos Boyd Whyte, or Mr A Higgins QC there is obviously a breach of 'confidentiality' just as there was when information was passed to the OSS around 20 November 2000. Let me state here, true to the 'criminals' code of ethics' the OSS or Richard Hegarty refuse to 'grass' on who supplied my personal information to 'Dickie'.

At this point let me remind you of one of the Law Society's rules in their Data Protection Notice "We will not use that information for any unconnected purpose without your consent". Let me make a quote from your own website "If someone wants to use your information for another purpose…you should be told about it and given a choice". As it appears Richard Hegarty collected my 'personal' information that was unrelated to my complaint for his personal use from somewhere other than the OSS and you are saying the "…Chair of the Compliance Board would also appear to be in compliance with the Acts" let me quote the rule that would apply to the law firm that supplied the information;
Confidential Information
2.03 (1) A lawyer at all times shall hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of the client acquired in the course of the professional relationship and shall not divulge any such information unless expressly or impliedly authorized by the client or required by law to do so.
Let me take the liberty of again quoting Lord Falconer "a complainant is somebody who doesn't quite understand the process…" Maybe you could explain?

In essence it appears what you are saying is that the Chair of the Compliance Board can, over the 'phone, extract data/information from the OSS's files contact any Solicitor or Barrister plunder their file extract any information that is of value to him/her and use to his/her advantage or gain and the victim(s) of these violations has no rights whatever. Also you are saying when a solicitors client makes a complaint to the OSS the solicitors are allowed access to the contents of complaints files before those files becomes 'live' for unrelated purposes to the complaint for the solicitors gain and the complainants have no right to know what information has been collected, for what purpose and by whom. Remember if the complainant does ask the file suddenly becomes "not part of a "relevant filling system"".

As I see it if say a large company are in litigation and they find their opponents' solicitors are at the present time Hegarty & Co how are they going to feel knowing Richard Hegarty as Chair of the Compliance Board has access to the files with their solicitors with the blessing of the Office for Supervision of Solicitors and that of the Information Commissioner, remember what you said concerning Richard Hegarty "…would also appear to be in compliance with the Acts" and Aman Virk stated he "was acting on Law Society business" when he accessed my personal information from either Thos Boyd Whyte and/or Mr A Higgins QC files.

From what you are saying there are different rules for the collection of data from unopened or closed files, one for the public and a separate set of rules for members of the Law Society. For instance, as the enclosed 'ATTENDANCE NOTE' shows, members of the Law Society can 'phone the OSS/Data Controller, the not yet open complaints files are retrieved by the Data Controller or an assistant who "leafs" through the contents, discusses the information over the 'phone with someone they assume are who they say they are, that is then collected to be used for a purpose(s) unrelated to the complaint and it also appears the Chair of the Compliance Board can 'phone any Lawyer to collect clients' information for his own personal use and you say this "…appears to be in compliance with the Act". On the other hand when a complainant follows the rules for the collection of data from their files it becomes "not part of a relevant data file" and all access is refused. I am confused with the data collection rules so would you send me a copy(s) of both sets of rules or direct me to the relevant website(s).

As I see it the enclosed 'ATTENDANCE NOTE' shows information was collected from my, not yet 'live' complaints file that should not have been "revealed" to my solicitors at that point and the letter written to the OSS by my Solicitor clearly shows both my solicitors and the OSS were aware the file was not yet 'live'. These two documents show without a shadow of doubt there was 'collusion' by the OSS in supplying data at a point when information should not have been "revealed" to my solicitors for the sole purpose of giving my solicitors excuse/reason(s) to sack me as a paying client and you are saying it "…appears to be in compliance with the Act". The LSO rule book states "They should carry out a detailed, unbiased investigation" the OSS and the LSO refused to "investigate" this point in fact they just ignored it. Maybe you would like to try and convince me that there is no existence of a 'Lawyer Protection Racket'.

Finally, if as you and Aman Virk, Manager, Quality & Service Standards, are saying that Richard Hegarty was acting on "Law Society business" when he collected my personal information so as to be able to 'discuss' by 'phone his dissatisfaction of the content of my website, why has he now 'personally' instructed independent solicitors to try and shut down my website? Surely if Richard Hegarty had been acting on 'Law Society business', it would have been the Law Society who are now attempting to close down my website.

I will send a copy of this letter to the Office for Constitutional Affairs as I believe my rights are and have been violated and I will most certainly put this letter on my web site for the whole world to see.

Yours faithfully

B R Gray