The facts behind Turner v Information Commissioner [2017] UKFTT 201 were that a member had moved from the UK Atomic Energy Authority to a private sector employer which subsequently ran aground, his pension benefits going into the PPF. He complained to the Pensions Ombudsman about the conduct of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Ombudsman held that it had no jurisdiction over BIS, as it was not an employer, administrator, trustee or scheme manager.

The member turned his fire on the Ombudsman, asking for copies of his office’s files and notes justifying their reasons for not hearing the complaint. The Ombudsman said that there were no such documents. The review letter sent to the member stood alone: there were no preparative drafts or emails, and the letter contained all their lawyer’s reasoning.

Next, the member complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which accepted the Ombudsman’s statement that no further information existed. Dissatisfied with this, the member appealed to the First-tier Tribunal of the General Regulatory Chamber (which hears claims about information rights). However, the Tribunal found that the ICO had been entitled to rely on the Ombudsman’s “very clear explanation of how their systems work… the ICO had no reason to doubt such a clear, transparent and probable explanation”. 

Comment: This ruling is something of a curio, but provides a rare insight into the workings of the Ombudsman’s office!