According to Conservative MP Chris Grayling: journalists “misuse” the Freedom of Information Act to create stories. His comments came at a time when the government is trying to weaken the FOI Act. 

However, journalists from national, local, trade press, generally – there will always be some exceptions – use the transparency legislation to access and public information that’s being kept secret; it’s information that’s in the public interest.

So, here’s 103 examples proving Grayling wrong. All of these stories contain information published from FOI requests.

They’re all in the public interest and were all published in the first half of 2015.

There’s issues of: domestic abuse, gross expenditure, wrongdoing, spying, child abuse, cybercrime, dodgy landlords, inflated bonuses, spurious expense claims and much more.

It’s a small selection of what has been published this year, and when scaled up to the 10 years the FOI Act has been in force a tiny part of thousands of stories publishing information that would never have been known without the legislation.

They’re roughly going in order from January to July, and weren’t all the FOI stories published, not by a long way.

1: Only 40 of 250 returning jihadis in UK face prosecution: The Sun 

2: Tate’s BP sponsorship was £150,000 to £330,000 a year, figures show: The Guardian 

3: Pothole Britain: 49,000 people demand compensation for damage caused to vehicles by worn-out roads: Daily Mirror

4. Clare’s Law: 1,300 domestic abuse disclosures made: BBC News

5. BBC accused of ‘spying’ after nearly 150 staff emails accessed or monitored: The Guardian 

6: Prison Service spends over £2,500 on funeral for child-killer: ITV News

7: Two children aged 7 and 8 suspected of rape as figures reveal almost 1000 alleged child criminals last year: Manchester Evening News

8: Driving test fraud: More learner drivers caught cheating: BBC News

9: TfL boss charges taxpayers for £40 bottles of wine and meals at the Groucho: Mayor Watch

10: NHS gives contraceptives to girls aged 10: The Times

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 22.24.29
11: £150,000 spent tackling mine subsidence in West Midlands and Staffordshire: Express and Star 

12: Avon and Somerset Constabulary pays out £300,000 in compensation over three years: Bristol Post

14: Government was told of Christmas rail chaos a MONTH before and failed to act: Daily Mirror

15: SLC pays out £200m too much in grants: Times Higher Education

16: Murder and robbery among 6,000 offences committed by London rioters since 2011: London Evening Standard

17: British police take 67 return flights to Portugal as cost of Madeleine McCann search nears £9million: Daily Mail 

18: FOI reveals electronic devices lost by Met Police over last five years: This is Local London

19: Fury as Scots public sector pays out £7m bonuses: The Scotsman

20: Revealed: more than 500,000 home care visits last less than five minutes: The Telegraph

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 22.33.09

21: Exclusive: Mental illness is the most common reason for sick days at the Department of Health: City AM

22: Around 240,000 books and records disposed of after £50m revamp of Manchester Central Library: Manchester Evening News

23: Sir Cliff Richard’s privacy ‘breached by raid details release’: BBC News

24: FOI request prompted hospital to investigate Jimmy Savile’s trips with patients, report says: FOI Directory

25: Man needed treatment after injecting legal high as Plymouth considers banning the drugs: Plymouth Herald 

26: Police officers forced to retire to seek compensation: BBC News

27: Serious self-harm soars at Harmondsworth since 2012: 4 News 

28: Cabinet office in child abuse cover-up: Daily Mail 

29: 150 web trolls snared by Merseyside Police over past three years: Southport Visiter

30: Flop Soundwaves concert ditched after £60,000 loss: The Shields Gazette

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 22.41.59

31: Shocking figures show nearly 300 toddlers stopped and searched by police: Daily Mirror 

32: A third of all burglaries in England and Wales are committed by children, shocking new statistics reveal: Daily Mail

33: Shooting the messenger? Sharp rise in council media leak investigations revealed: Press Gazette

34: ‘IRA chopper’ spotted over Derbyshire in 1970s, new documents show: Derbyshire Times

35: Southwark Council spent £140k on ‘Berlin Wall-style’ fence around housing estate: Evening Standard

36: Met accused of “failing to engage public” in body camera trial after just ONE Londoner gives feedback: Mayor Watch

37: Children with mental health problems can wait for over three years to be assessed: Independent 

38: Cumbria council bosses wanted to ‘kill’ spin doctor story: News and Star

39: Twelve murderers and 10 rapists among hundreds of dangerous criminals on the run in UK: Daily Mirror

40: Exposed: inmates on the run from Ford Prison: The Argus

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 22.54.01

41: Local councils now employ at least 3,400 comms staff – more than double the total for central government: Press Gazette

42: Forty illegal immigrants a day arrested in Britain: The Telegraph

43: Rising numbers of hospital patients so fed up they discharge themselves: The Telegraph

44: M6 lane closed 70 times by glitches: Express and Star

45: Reported child sexual abuse has risen 60% in last four years, figures show: The Guardian

46: Swinging Sixties pop group ‘attended Jimmy Savile paedophile brothel’ according to secret police report: Daily Mirror

47: Revealed: Complaints about London bus drivers: Evening Standard

48: By-elections triggered complaints: Gazette and Herald

49: Lariam: Hundreds of British soldiers suffering from mental illness after being given anti-malarial drug: The Independent

50: UK law firms investigated 187 times for data protection breaches: Computer World UK 

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.02.05

51: Manchester Met spent £1.2m on ‘Vilnius memo’ libel case: Times Higher Education

52: Review of hundreds of Cambridgeshire police body cameras after defects discovered: Cambridge News

53: Bizarre list of items stolen from Doncaster council buildings: South Yorkshire Times

54: Criminal landlords to be revealed after EHN tribunal victory: Environmental Health News

55: Night in a prison cell costs more than a night at the Ritz hotel: Daily Mirror

56: Bungled Folkestone sign project cost you £110k: Folkstone Herald

57: Toxic plane fumes on flights ‘is bad as asbestos’: Daily Express

58: South Yorkshire Police warned of Sheffield’s ‘very entrenched sexual exploitation problem’ in 2006 – but failed to act: Sheffield Star 

59: The Tory MPs and donors taking in millions in housing benefit: Daily Mirror

60: Hospitals admit they use security guards to restrain dementia patients: The Telegraph

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.19.22

61: Hospitals forced to call in rat catchers every week after David Cameron axed 2,000 cleaners: Daily Mirror 

62: Revealed: shocking stories of animal cruelty on London’s train network: Evening Standard

63: More than 3,000 police officers are being investigated for alleged brutality – and most are still on the beat: Daily Mail 

64: Prince Charles’s ‘black spider memos’ show lobbying at highest political level: The Guardian

65: Mentally ill patients vanish from hospital after cutbacks: The Times

66: Met police taking hundreds to hospital after ambulances fail to arrive on time: The Guardian

67: ‘Thousands of criminals tried to get jobs as teachers,’ figures show: The Telegraph

68: Sexual abuse of disabled adults revealed: BBC News

69: MPs’ expenses: watchdog agrees to publish up to 1m receipts and invoices: The Guardian

70: Struggling councils ‘spent £750,000 of taxpayers’ cash on booking C-list celebrities for events while they cut public services’: Daily Mail 

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.25.39

71: Thatcher allowed paedophile to keep knighthood: Late former Prime Minister blocked plans to strip Sir Peter Hayman of honour: Daily Mail 

72: Revealed: BP’s close ties with the UK government: The Guardian

73: Met plots XP escape plan in bid to upgrade to Windows 10: IT Pro

74: Armed police carried out 15,000 stop and searches: The Scotsman

75: Taxman pays record £600,000 to informants: The Telegraph

76: Hushed up, the taxpayer’s £350,000 legal aid bill for arson couple who killed six of their own children in fire at their home: Daily Mail 

77: Reports of child abuse rising sharply, NSPCC says: BBC News

78: Government ordered to publish redacted fracking report in full: The Guardian

79: New MPs rack up £11,000 bar tab: Sunday Times

80: West Midlands Police: Front desk closures cost £500,000: BBC News

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.35.31

81: Shocking figures reveal police have no officers available for thousands of 999 calls: Daily Mirror 

82: Alton Towers accident figures show more than 30 incidents over last three years: Coventry Telegraph 

83: HS2 move plea costs Sheffield City Council £190k: BBC News

84: Gordon Brown claimed £732 pen cartridges on expenses: BBC News

85: Quarter of UK’s speed cameras switched off: AutoExpress

86: Met Police officers fired Tasers at ‘youths and elderly’: BBC News

87: Non-dom status claimed by 800 UK-born taxpayers living in Britain: Guardian 

88: Town hall CEO ‘should resign’ over asbestos scandal: Guardian Series

89: NHS blows £5 MILLION on delayed The Register

90: Pupil paid £250,000 in compensation after suffering serious injury at Leicester school: Leicester Mercury

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.41.47

91: Fury over friends and family of Transport for London staff getting ‘£22m’ of free Tube and bus travel last year: Daily Mail

92: Kids as young as 12 are arrested for dealing heroin: Daily Star

93: Over 8,200 racism allegations made against 8,000 Met officers since 2000: London Loves Business

94: Children as young of 10 are ‘sexting’ X-rated pictures: Sunderland Echo

95: Fault-spotting train causes 23 rail delays in 3 years: Edinburgh News

96: Half a million households forced to have expensive pre-payment energy meters installed in last six years: Daily Mail

97: Landlords enjoy £14bn tax breaks as figures reveal buy-to-let expansion: The Guardian

98: Ecuador urged to hand over Julian Assange as police costs spiral to £11.5m: Daily Express

99: One in four mental health beds close in North East: BBC News

100: Four hundred pirate radio setups shut down in London in just two years: Evening Standard

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.49.14101: Government to release secret details about the use of drones over UK skies: Independent

102: Sexy MPs website is most popular banned website at Parliament: The Telegraph

103: Police publish secret training manual telling undercover cops to have ‘fleeting, disastrous’ affairs with targets: Daily Mirror 


I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare time ever since.