The Freedom of Information Act is an essential tool for journalists – and the source of many great stories.
While making a FOI request is straightforward, making an effective request is more difficult. If you ask for too much information you can be refused on cost grounds.
If you phrase the request the wrong way you may walk straight into an exemption. This practical course is designed to help journalists make effective use of the legislation.
The morning session provides a working guide to the Act and includes an interactive session on drafting requests. The second half covers some of the key decisions made by the Information Commissioner and Tribunal and explains their implications for you. It will help you decide whether refusals are justified or should be challenged – and help you argue your case.
The course will be delivered by Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, which played a leading role in securing the legislation and improving it during its parliamentary passage.
The 10.30 to 4.30 training day will consist of two sessions:
Session 1 will cover:
• What information you are entitled to – and from whom
• How to make an effective request
• Key pitfalls and how to avoid them
• What authorities should do to help you
• When requests can be refused on cost grounds
• How the Act’s exemptions and the public interest test work
• Challenging refusals
• Examples of good and bad requests
Session 2 will cover key Tribunal and Commissioner decisions on issues such as:
• FOI requests for contracts
• Minutes of meetings with lobbyists
• Requests for civil service advice
• Names of officials – can they be withheld?
• Commercial confidentiality claims
• Arguing the public interest test