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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 01:43 GMT 02:43 UK
Information boss admits mistake
Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas decides on freedom of information requests
Britain's freedom of information boss has had to censure himself after he admitted breaking his own rules.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas refused a request from campaigners Friends of the Earth (FOE) to issue information about climate change.

But he then admitted he breached the Freedom of Information Act by not giving his reasons for why the information could not be released.

FOE said it would carry on trying to get the information made public.

The commissioner handles requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

This case clearly shows the ICO does not comply with its own obligations
Phil Michaels, Friends of the Earth

The group had asked for details on climate change from the Department of Trade and Industry last December.

Several months later the commissioner turned down their request, citing advice from the DTI.

However, he breached the Freedom of Information Act by failing to give a reason why the information should not be released.

Mr Thomas later issued an embarrassing Decision Notice - the punishment for not complying with the Freedom of Information Act - against his own department.

FOE said the case showed the "increasingly shambolic state" of the commissioner's department.

"The commission is meant to protect our rights of access to information," said spokesman Phil Michaels.

"This case clearly shows the ICO does not comply with its own obligations."

The department said it had learnt its lesson from the case, but stood by its decision not to release the information.




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