ICO notches up first successful FoI prosecution

A town clerk in the English county of Shropshire has been the subject of the first ever successful Freedom of Information prosecution after lying to a member of the public who made an FoI request.

Mike Shaw, the ICO’s group manager in enforcement, said in a statement: “People should have trust and confidence that they can access public information without the danger of it being doctored, fabricated or corrupted in any way.”

Destroying public records in response to FoI requests is a crime under section 77(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which makes it illegal to deliberately obstruct access to public records “with the intent to prevent disclosure.” A similar offence exists in section 100H(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, and, unlike the FoI offence, a prosecution can be brought by any public body or private person instead of being restricted to the Information Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions alone.

Read more: The Register, March 18, 2020

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