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Incoming Information Commissioner expresses support for FOI charges

At a pre-appointment hearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the government’s preferred candidate for Information Commissioner John Edwards suggested he thought it was legitimate to charges charge some FOI requesters.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information has issued the following comment.

Maurice Frankel, the Campaign’s director said:

“John Edwards was cautious about taking a firm position on the FOI questions he was asked, understandably wanting to brief himself fully on the issues before commenting. Unfortunately, that did not deter him from suggesting off his own bat that some requesters should be charged for making FOI requests, a topic no-one on the committee had even raised with him. He seemed unaware that the Information Commissioner’s Office has always opposed the introduction of charges. For the incoming Commissioner to advocate a reversal of ICO policy on this critical issue before he’s even taken office is not an encouraging sign. We may have the first Information Commissioner who is willing to take the initiative in proposing to restrict FOI rights.”

Mr Edwards will take over from the current Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, when her term ends on 31 October 2021.

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