It’s been a busy few weeks in the world of writing my FOI book for journalists – I have so far interviewed more than 30 journalists, campaigners and FOI experts.
The book is set to be a practical guide for journalists on making FOI requests that result in stories. It will reflect on the law in the UK, case studies, legal decisions and the experiences of those who use the Act on a frequent basis.
I have so far spoken to top journalists from the UK, Ireland, Scotland, US and Australia. I have chatted with those who have studied and campaigned for FOI around the world and also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the Acts with FOI professionals.
Here’s a list of those I have spoken to – there are many more to come but I have decided, for now, to only include those who I have already spoken with and will update this as I speak to more people.
Heather Brooke: Journalist, author and Freedom of Information campaigner who exposed the MPs’ expenses scandal in the UK. She has written Your Right to Know: A Citizen’s Guide to the Freedom of Information Act.
Martin Rosenbaum: The BBC’s Freedom of Information Expert and executive producer for political programmes. He has a detailed knowledge of FOI, its workings, and frequently trains staff at the organisation in its use.
Dominic Kennedy: Investigations editor of the Times newspaper. Kennedy has been a frequent user of FOI and has challenged cases to the tribunal level including for George Galloway’s Mariam appeal files.
Jason Leopold: US journalist who specialises in the FOIA laws and focuses on Guantanamo Bay. He has sued the FBI for their poor FOIA performance and been called a ‘FOI terrorist’ by officials.
Cynthia O’Murchu: Journalist on the investigations team at the Financial Times. She has previously worked with data and uses FOI as part of her work and was part of the team that produced the Europe’s Hidden Billions investigation.
Rob Edwards: Freelance journalist specialising in environmental issues with more than 30 years experience. He uses the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations to expose nuclear issues and environmental problems for the Guardian, and Sunday Herald.
David Hencke: Investigative journalist and writer currently writing for Exaro News and more, he was named political journalist of the year at the British Journalism Awards 2012.
Matt Davis: Runs Data News Ltd providing freelance FOI based stories to all of the national newspapers in the UK. He is a prolific and successful FOI requester and also teaches students at Brighton Journalist Works.
John Gill: Editor of Times Higher Education magazine – which has previously looked at FOI performance across the university sector and frequently uses it for reporting.
Martin Stable: Interactive news editor of the Financial Times. He has used FOI to uncover such things as the London Fire Brigades response times to different areas in the capital.
Nicola Hughes: Data journalist and developer with the Times and Sunday Times newspapers. She has experience making detail FOI requests for data from large databases and a detailed knowledge of how to successfully get the information wanted.
James Grimaldi: US investigative journalist and Pulitzer prize winner, currently working for the Wall Street Journal. He has a vast experience of using the US FOI Act and offers valuable insights into making requests.
Paul Bradshaw: Journalist and lecturer who publishes the Online Journalism Blog. He has co-ordinated and organised large national investigations using the FOI Act which have included looking at local council’s excessive spending in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Gavin Sheridan: Irish journalist who works for Storyful and a massive FOI advocate. He is a fierce campaigner for improving very restrictive FOI laws in Ireland and has exposed many wrongdoings using the Act.
Gavin Aitchison: News editor of the York Press newspaper. He is a frequent user of the Act has battled the Cabinet Office to recieve papers relating to the Nestle take over of Rowntree.
Phil Chamberlain: Freelance journalist and academic. Phil is a keen user of the Act, has experience requesting information off of a number of authorities and is the author of the upcoming book Blacklisted.
Asa Bennet: Online journalist for the Huffington Post UK. He is a frequent requester and has used the Act to reveal information about the famous face choices on UK money.
Campaigners and academics
The Campaign for Freedom of Information: The UK’s leading voice defending FOI laws and standing up for the right to know. The campaign were crucial in FOI laws being implemented and also fighting restrictive changes from officials. They run training courses, provide advice to journalists and requesters and are a fountain of FOI knowledge.
MuckRock: US collaborative news site that brings together journalists, researchers, activists, and regular citizens to request, analyse and share government documents.
Mark Hanna: Co-Author of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists and senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield. He has experience of teaching students FOI and writes the key law book for those in the media.
Ben Worthy: Academic at Birbeck College – University of London. He has a background researching FOI, British politics, political leadership and previously worked at the Constitution Unit at University College London.
Chris Frost: Head of Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University. Formerly he was a journalist and editor as well as being a long term member of the National Union of Journalists of which he was president of in 1992.
Calum Liddle: Academic at the University of Strathclyde and formerly worked in the Information Commissioner’s Office answering FOI complaints.
Peter Timmins: Is an Australian lawyer and consultant who works on FOI and privacy protection issues in Sydney.
National Freedom of Information Coalition: A nonpartisan alliance of citizen-driven nonprofit freedom of information organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys in the US.
Christopher Graham: The UK Information Commissioner who is responsible for Freedom of Information application and enforcement across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. He was a former BBC journalist and Director General of the Advertising Standards Authority before taking up the position at the ICO.
Kevin Dunion: The former Scottish Information Commissioner who served in the role for nine years. He now runs the Freedom of Information Centre in Scotland.
FOI Man: Paul Gibbons an FOI officer of 10 years who now trains authorities on how to correctly use the Act. He blogs on FOI, data protection, and information rights under the name of FOI Man.
Bial Ghafoor: Works as a FOI and DP practitioner. He has done so for central government and local NHS organisations. He blogs under the name FOI Kid.
Tim Turner: Tim was Data Protection and FOI Officer for two top-rated councils as well an Information Governance advisor for an NHS organisation. He now trains and provides consultancy on all FOI and data protection issues.
Jon Baines: Chairman of the National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers, he speaks and writes about data protection and FOI issues as well as working for a public authority.