Give me your answer, fill in a form
The Metropolitan Police Special Branch does not hold any information about John Lennon.
That's perhaps not the most exciting intro, but it is a fact which it has taken nearly three years to establish. It took me so long to find out.
The BBC asked the Metropolitan Police under freedom of information for such material back in September 2006, but the Met simply refused to confirm or deny whether Special Branch, which covered political matters, kept anything on Lennon. The answer to this was something inside that was always denied.
We know Lennon did come to the attention of other sections of the Met, but were they also monitoring his political activities? Last month the Information Commissioner ruled there will be an answer.
He overturned the police refusal to say whether or not they possessed any relevant records in a decision which was highly critical of the Met's FOI procedures, telling them in future to indicate precisely what you mean to say.
The Met has now told the BBC that as it happens they don't actually hold any such material. If they had told us this in the first place they wouldn't have had to go through all the extra effort of internally reconsidering their decision when asked to review it and then having to argue their case with the Commissioner. With every mistake we must surely be learning.
Public authorities sometimes complain about the administrative burden imposed by having to respond to freedom of information requests. For those of you who are FOI officers, you know it ain't easy, you know how hard it can be.
But occasionally I am forced to wonder whether authorities respond in a way which actually increases their own workload quite unnecessarily. In fact, I'm certain that it happens all the time.
It must be a hard day's night in the offices of the Metropolitan Police freedom of information team, eight days a week, where thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box ...