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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Does a central government department have legitimate grounds

Resolved Question:

Does a central government department have legitimate grounds for refusing a subject access request under the terms of the Data Protection Act, where the contents of their disclosure could incriminate that department?
BACKGROUND
I work through a personal service company (PSC) in a central government department (department X) that is subject to strict HMRC rules (IR35) on the use of off-payroll contractors.
To mitigate the risks of non-compliance with IR35, department X uses the specialist tax team of another department (department Y) to produce a risk assessment of a contract being inside or outside of IR35.
In my case department X altered my responses to a working practices questionnaire without my permission or knowledge before sending it to department Y for assessment. The outcome of that assessment was unfavourable, due to errors in the way that department X set up the contract.
And now, through no fault of mine, I am facing the termination of my contract, if I refuse to alter my personal tax arrangements, so that I pay more tax. (The risk assessment ‘failed’ on account of the assignment being a maternity cover with an expectation of work to be provided, and because any substitute is subject to the approval of department X.)
At the time that I emailed the working practices questionnaire to department X, I highlighted the potential for unauthorised edits and the HR director of department X has since confirmed that he was aware of my concerns. He has also admitted to altering my responses to the working practices questionnaire prior to submitting it to department Y (he implied that doing so would improve the outcome). The HR director offered to let me have a copy of that submission, but is now refusing to cooperate, despite making my request in writing. (I believe that the actions of department X have unfairly prejudiced my tax situation and that this is why it is refusing to provide a copy of the document in question.)
QUESTION
Do I have a right to receive a copy of the document under the terms of the Data Protection Act? And do I have any right of redress, given that I am not party to an agreement with department X?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Note: There is no contract between my PSC and the end user, department X. My PSC was contracted by an intermediary that has a contract with department X.
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** k will help you.
On the basis you have submitted no. If they hold personal data about you, then you are entitled to a copy. If you ask and they refuse then you can take it to the information commissioner. They offer a free, independent service and can make them provide the information. Their website is at www.ico.gov.uk
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex
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Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
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