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The lifecycle of an FOI request

Martin Rosenbaum | 16:43 UK time, Monday, 3 September 2007

• On 9 March 2005 I made a freedom of information request to what was then called the Department for Education and Skills. Let's call this R-day.

• On 28 June 2005 (R+111) I was allowed to visit the DfES to read some of the documents in question.

• On 30 June 2005 (R+113) I requested an internal review in relation to the material I hadn't been allowed to see.

• On 26 July 2005 (R+139) the DfES rejected my internal review.

• On 31 July 2005 (R+144) I complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

• On 12 September 2006 (R+552) the Commissioner's staff began to investigate the complaint (yes, over a year later).

• On 23 January 2007 (R+685) I received a second batch of documents which, following the intervention of the ICO, the DfES now decided to give me, while continuing to withhold other material.

• On 22 May 2007 (R+804) the ICO issued a decision notice instructing the DfES to send me further documents (although not everything I had asked for).

• On 19 June 2007 (R+832) the DfES announced it would appeal against this ICO decision to the Information Tribunal.

• On 1 Septmber 2007 (R+906), four days before the Tribunal was due to hold a preliminary hearing on the case, I received a letter from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, as it now is, telling me they had decided to drop the appeal and enclosing the material which the ICO had told them to release. The request has now finally been dealt with.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:06 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Hywel wrote:

How come it takes 900+ days to respond to an FoI request but the Home Office can email you correcting your blog in 24 hours? :-)

  • 2.
  • At 10:43 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

Are you not being disingenous with your calculations, have you taken bank holidays and weekends into consideration?

Or is this another example of you twisting the facts. Criticism of the FOI system is undermined by sloppy journalism

Ed -
I didn't claim they were working days, but I take your point. I've recalculated on the basis you suggest. Taking working days only into account, my request was finally answered on day R+627. It still feels a little slow to me.

  • 4.
  • At 07:44 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Joseph wrote:

I am no supporter of the BBC and its left wing bias, however, I have to defend Martin against the absurd comment made by Ed, 627 days to finally release the information is an outrage? how Ed can ignore this yet attack Martin for not disallowing holidays and weekends shows how bias Ed is in his views.

As Hywel mentions in his post it only took the Home Office 24 hours to send in a correction when it suited them, yet it takes all this time for them to handover information they had no right to withhold in the first place.

Ed, I am sorry you are the one being disingenous by trying to deflect what is a clear and chronological history of how poor our present Government is in its treatment of us mere mortals by twisting the facts to try and support your own perspectives.

  • 5.
  • At 09:32 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • anthony lester wrote:

Talking of untimely FoI requests, whens the Balen report going to finally get released?

I was allocated a case officer by the ICO just over a month from complaining, but they did say it would be a further two months before it is likely to be progressed. Of course, in the meantime Reading Borough Council issued an email "warning" that senior officers should consider deleting emails they don't want released under the FOI, so even if the ICO rule in my favour there won't be any emails for me to see.

  • 7.
  • At 10:13 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • harold wrote:

My understanding of the law which is sparse is that there is a precedent for deleted emails to be restored as one cannot delete items from the hardrive short of destroying it.


  • 8.
  • At 02:22 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Davies wrote:

Its in the establishments interests to prolong these issues as long as possible. It's rather worrying that people would defend this delay; seems like those who do are politically biased.

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