Last week, Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling made a series of comments on FOI use by journalists:
It is, on occasion, misused by those who use it as, effectively, a research tool to generate stories for the media, and that is not acceptable. It is a legitimate and important tool for those who want to understand why and how governments make decisions, and this government does not intend to change that
So Matt Burgess (and others) responded with some examples of how FOI requests by journalists has made a difference-there’s 103 examples here. You can see here for some analysis of the evdience of who uses FOI.
Now the head of Wolverhampton council, Keith Ireland, has waded in at a Scrutiny Board Meeting
The vast majority of requests come from media across the country, be that the BBC, local media, or media in general.They come from people who are out to create trouble for councils and students who are too lazy to do their own research. Others come from big companies who can’t be bothered to look up the data and want to know when contracts are on for re-evaluation. It is a really costly exercise. The original principal of FOI is not what is happening in reality.
He claimed, in addition, that it cost around £500,000 to process requests [see here for the tricky topic of how much FOI costs]. Just to make life even more interesting (and FOI even more political), it appears Labour may be setting up its own FOI Commission…