Course Details

Using the Freedom of Information Act! Practical training for journalists

The Freedom of Information Act is an essential tool for journalists – and the source of many great stories.

While making a FOI request is straightforward, making an effective request is more difficult. If you ask for too much information you can be refused on cost grounds.

If you phrase the request the wrong way you may walk straight into an exemption. This practical course is designed to help journalists make effective use of the legislation.

The morning session provides a working guide to the Act and includes an interactive session on drafting requests. The second half covers some of the key decisions made by the Information Commissioner and Tribunal and explains their implications for you. It will help you decide whether refusals are justified or should be challenged – and help you argue your case.

The course will be delivered by Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, which played a leading role in securing the legislation and improving it during its parliamentary passage.

The 10.30 to 4.30 training day will consist of two sessions:

Session 1 will cover:

• What information you are entitled to – and from whom

• How to make an effective request

• Key pitfalls and how to avoid them

• What authorities should do to help you

• When requests can be refused on cost grounds

• How the Act’s exemptions and the public interest test work

• Challenging refusals

• Examples of good and bad requests

Session 2 will cover key Tribunal and Commissioner decisions on issues such as:

• FOI requests for contracts

• Minutes of meetings with lobbyists

• Requests for civil service advice

• Names of officials – can they be withheld?

• Commercial confidentiality claims

• Arguing the public interest test



Course Trainer

Maurice Frankel

Maurice Frankel

Maurice Frankel delivers the Using the Freedom of Information Act! Practical Training for Journalists workshop. He has worked with the Campaign for Freedom of Information since it was set up in 1984, and has been its director since 1987. He was actively involved in persuading the government to introduce the Freedom of Information Act and in seeking improvements to the legislation in Parliament. He now trains requesters and public authority staff in the legislation. He was a member of the Ministry of Justice’s Information Rights User Group. He sat on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s review group looking at aligning the Local Government Act 1972 with the FOI Act. He drafted the successful private members’ bills which became the Access to Personal Files Act 1987, the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and the Access to Health Records Act 1990.

Upcoming Events

December / 2 / Wed

SOLD OUT! Shoot & Edit video on your iPhone/ iPad


December / 9 / Wed

Virtual Town Hall meeting: News Recovery Plan for Wales


December / 11 / Fri

Audio editing with Audacity


More Courses>