Information Requests

Since January 2005, the UK’s Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) has given the public a general right of access to all types of “recorded” information held by public authorities – not only government departments, local authorities and other public bodies, but also schools, colleges and universities, and private entities wholly or largely owned by a 'public authority'.

Any individual can request in writing (including fax or email) information from an institution, which has to respond to the request within 20 working days. The Corner House has used FoIA requests in particular to gain information from the UK’s Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) about the Department’s assessments of projects that request financial support, especially information that has not otherwise been in the public domain.

Some of the requests have yielded a lot of critical information; others little of apparent value at all. Some requests have indicated further avenues of inquiry. We’ve posted both requests and replies on our website in the public interest – you may see important information that we’ve missed. We’ve highlighted what we think are critical points where appropriate.

Friends of the Earth UK have put together guidance on how to put in a FOIA request for people interested in taking action in their local community. FoIA guidance

There is also a good guide to the legislation and details on how to make a request on The Guardian website.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations published a guide to using Freedom of Information in campaigning in October 2010, using some of The Corner House's work in its case studies.

The Corner House has also used the UK's Environmental Information Regulations, which have more stringent requirements than FOIA on presumed disclosure.