John Edwards warns against Ministers deleting messages

06/06/2023 | Civil Service World

UK Information Commissioner John Edwards appeared before the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Tuesday to discuss the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You can watch a recording of the hearing at Parliament.TV.

Mr Edwards began with a summary of the ICO's efforts to clear its backlog of 2,300 cases and that he made FOI a top priority since his arrival at the ICO. Discussing the need to change the attitudes of public authorities, Mr Edwards explained that in the last year, the ICO issued more enforcement notices than in the previous 17 years. Mr Edwards also pointed out he sees the ICO's role best served when it takes a carrot-and-stick approach, as highlighted by the Cabinet Office, which the Committee had previously criticised in its report on its FOI Clearing House, and how they are now working on new requests within the legal timeframes while addressing the backlog as a separate stream. 

Other subjects discussed included a warning against unhealthy government exemptions and that Ministers could face criminal sanctions for failing to maintain a record. 

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John Edwards, Information Commissioner

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