Information Commissioner issues decision notice against his own department

The man in charge of deciding freedom of information requests has censured himself after he admitted breaking his own rules. The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, refused a request from campaigners Friends of the Earth (FOE) to issue information about climate change.

But his office failed to give a reason why the information should not be released, which was a breach of the Freedom of Information Act. Mr Thomas was forced to issue a decision notice against his own department as punishment for not complying with the act.

FOE went to the information commissioner after its initial request for information from the Department of Trade and Industry was turned down last December. Several months later the commissioner refused the request, citing advice from the DTI, but backed down when FOE made a complaint against him.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Phil Michaels said: "This case illustrates the increasingly shambolic state of the information commissioner's office and the need for improved staff training on implementing the very act which they are suppose to oversee. "This case shows the ICO does not comply with its own obligations. It is time for the ICO to get its house in order." The environmental group said it would continue to press for the information to be released.

Information commissioner breaks his own rules (The Guardian, 7 June 2006)