Not so open society - 20% of FoI requests turned down by Government

The Freedom of Information Act, which came into force in January 2005, applies to more than 100,000 public bodies across the UK.

Last year figures from the Ministry of Justice show that central Government bodies received more than 32,000 different requests for information.

However 20 per cent - nearly 7,000 requests - were turned down point blank by officials. Less than two thirds of the requests - 63 per cent - were classed as fully "resolvable".

The annual report on the FOI Act in central Government also revealed that 16 per cent - more than 5,000 requests - were taking more than the specified 20 days to process. Of the 620 requests which went to internal review within the departments, 19 per cent took more than 60 days to process.

Maurice Franckel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: "This reflects the delays that some requesters are still experiencing before they receive a firm answer.

The Liberal Democrats said it was difficult to see how so many requests can be turned down in an era of free information.

One in five Freedom Of Information requests turned down by Government (Daily Telegraph, 18 June 2008)