PL&B FOI E-news, Issue 25

1. FOI Private Members Bill stopped

A few MPs from all parties have blocked the Private Member’s Bill that sought to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act. By tabling more than 20 amendments, the MPs made sure that the Bill will not progress, as it ran out of time at its report stage. The Bill is now unlikely to be considered again.

The Bill, introduced by David Maclean, a former Tory chief whip, would have introduced an amendment to the FOI Act to protect MPs' constituency correspondence from disclosure. However, it has been pointed out that such information is already protected under the Act’s exemptions and the Data Protection Act.

The debate took place on Friday, 20 April.

2. ICO backs the BBC regarding vexatious requests

The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has ruled that the BBC was
justified in refusing requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act on
the grounds that the requests were vexatious. The BBC had received 90 requests for information relating to its hospitality expenditure. The ICO took the view that the volume of requests was harassing the public authority and some members of staff with whom the complainant had corresponded. The Commissioner ruled that the requests could be characterised as obsessive.

The ICO has recently taken many decisions on the issue of vexatious or repeated requests.

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Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2007