Who is the watchdog who acts as guardian of whether or not public authorities are fulfilling their duty to be open under the Freedom of Information Act?
The Tribunal's role is to hear appeals from those who are dissatisfied with a decision made by the Commissioner. I've been looking at their list of cases which the Tribunal has so far decided.
A rough-and-ready analysis of the 34 FOI or EIR decisions shows that in 11 of them - nearly one in three - the Tribunal overturned the Commissioner's decision. And in 9 of these 11 cases, the Tribunal's view can be regarded as being more in favour of openness than the Commissioner's (while one decision is effectively neutral and one more disposed to secrecy).
What's also interesting is that decisions taken by the Tribunal when John Angel is sitting as one of its members seem to be more likely to favour openness than those taken when one of his deputies is acting as the legally qualified member of the Tribunal panel.
(However I should add the caveats that this may reflect the nature of the cases rather than anything else and that this is based on a crude summary of the outcome rather a nuanced assessment of the full implications of each decision.)
Yet, while Richard Thomas is a public figure, Mr Angel is not. I believe the Information Tribunal website used to have a list of its members with brief biographies, but this seems to have been taken down.
Would you like to become one of the Tribunal's lay members, so you too can have the chance to help overrule or uphold the Commissioner's decisions? If you are interested, here are the details of a recent recruitment exercise.