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Parting shots from retiring Information Commissioner - June 2009

Richard Thomas CBE, who retires as Information Commissioner this month, has used his last public appearances to fire a few parting shots at the establishment. Having ruffled feathers with his comments about international data transfer rules (reported here last month) he has excoriated Public Authorities for not having an “instinctive culture of openness” and for paying lip service to the Freedom of Information Act. He also admitted that his Office was severely over-committed dealing with over 10,000 FOI complaints as well as the annual toll of around 25,000 data protection issues.

My office is flat out, but too many cases still have to wait to get started. If the law is to be extended, that must be accompanied by adequate and secure funding.” he stated.


Tiered notification fees to be levied on Data Controllers in the future will improve the funding for the Office’s data protection work but there is no hard information yet as to how much extra cash will be raised. Incoming Commissioner Chris Graham will doubtless be looking to the Government for more funding so that the balance between data protection and freedom of information can be maintained.

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