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Issue: 30/05/2019


'Secrecy' clause for new environment regulator causes concern
Proposals for the new Office for Environmental Protection may undermine right to access information under the Environmental Information Regulations following Brexit, the Campaign for FOI has claimed. The new regulator is being established under the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill in order to replace the oversight of the European Commission once the UK leaves the EU. It will be able to investigate complaints alleging a serious failure by a public authority, and set out the measures it expects to be taken to correct this. If these are not complied with, it will be able to take legal action against the authority. However, the public will have no right to information about issues which the Office, a public authority or a minister does not wish to disclose. The Campaign for FOI says not only are the provisions problematic of themselves, but they may lead to future statutory restrictions to override the EIRs right of access.

Better management of FOI data needed in Jersey
Jersey's government needs to do better in its record management of FOI requests, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of Jersey, Karen McConnell. The Freedom of Information Law 2011 came in to force in 2015, replacing the previous Code of Practice on Public Access to Official Information. In March 2016, Ms McConnell said the States had met its statutory responsibilities in establishing an FOI team to support departments responding to recent requests. However, her recent follow up review points out that the government is yet to formally decide whether it should invest in an IT solution for FOI management. She said: "There has been some progress in implementing my previous recommendations. However, a number of key actions agreed to implement those recommendations have repeatedly stalled. Overall progress, particularly in records management, is disappointing."

Supreme Court overturns Commissioner's decision
The Supreme Court has overturned the Irish Information Commissioner's finding that Ireland's Minister for Health must give a man a record of his meeting with a retired judge reviewing allegations of sexual abuse against retired surgeon Dr Michael Shine. The court's unanimous judgment involved it addressing, for the first time, the meaning of the wording 'any record held by a public body' in section 6.1 of the Freedom of Information Act 1997. The judges said that the Commissioner's decision that because the Department physically had possession of the document, it was 'held', was a misinterpretation of the true meaning of 'held'.

New Zealand Prime Minister releases her diaries
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has released her diary as part of the government's promise of more transparency, showing what she does in her "ministerial" capacity. According to the data released, Ardern spends 19 hours a week at diarised appointments, with a third of those being meetings and a quarter being media interviews. By comparison, governance - for example Cabinet meetings - amounts to just three percent of her time. Commentators are saying that although some of those numbers might seem low, the data released by the government is limited.

Freedom of infomation JournalMore freedom of information news and articles

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Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

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Professional and practical Training Courses enable delegates to understand the legal requirements in key areas of compliance.  
The following is a selection of some of PDP's current courses.  
Matt Lewin Cornerstone Barristers
Matt Lewin Cornerstone Barristers
Since the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into force in 2005 we have experienced a fundamental change in the relationship between UK government and its citizens as government information has become more publicly accessible. Greater transparency is also a key policy of the Coalition Government, and in light of the deficit reduction programme there is an ever increasing public interest in how public money is spent. This has led to the publication of a wide range of public sector datasets and proposals to expand the Freedom of Information Act through the Protection of Freedoms Bill. Information Officers are central to these developments and need to be fully aware of the Act and the impact of future changes to it.

This training session is designed to help those who are on the receiving end of requests for information and those who advise and assist them.

This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • London            Monday, 2nd September 2019
  • Belfast             Monday, 23rd September 2019
  • Manchester    Monday, 21st October 2019
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 
FOI Practical Training - Level 2 (Applying the Exemptions)
Liz Fitzsimons, Eversheds
Liz Fitsimons

Public sector bodies must make daily decisions on how to respond to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and how to apply the exemptions in the Act. Those decisions are increasingly reviewed and, in many cases, overturned by the Information Commissioner, the Information Tribunal and the Courts. As case law develops and changes, public authorities need to ensure that they understand when the exemptions can be applied, and what they have to demonstrate to apply them correctly.

This training session considers in detail the practical application of the main FOI exemptions.

A discount is available for delegates booking both FOI Level 1 and FOI Level 2.

This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • London           Tuesday, 3rd September 2019  
  • Belfast            Tuesday, 24th September 2019  
  • Manchester   Tuesday, 22nd October 2019 
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 
Damien Welfare, Cornerstone Barristers
Damien Welfare
Cornerstone Barristers
The competing demands of Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation in the UK present challenges for all public bodies involved in collecting, holding and disclosing personal information. Understanding the interface between Freedom of Information laws (including the Environmental Information Regulations 2004) and the General Data Protection Regulation is essential for all those involved with information management in the public sector.

This session, which is designed for people who already work with FOI issues, explains the key principles underlying the differences between FOI and data protection laws, including when personal data should and should not be released in response to subject access requests and FOI/EIR requests. Delegates who do not have an existing understanding of the basics of FOI law are recommended to attend FOI Level 1 before attending this session.

The session includes:
  • knowing whether a request should be dealt with under the DPA or FOI law (or EIR)
  • the latest thinking on determining what is personal data
  • the interpretation and practical application of the personal data exemption
  • the legal principles governing access to third party personal information
  • applying relevant exemptions
  • disclosing staff information to outside third parties
  • analysing the practical implications of key decisions of the Commissioner and Information Rights Tribunal
  • disclosing third party data of professionals in the fields of health, education and social work
This session enables delegates to understand how to manage requests for information, and to achieve best practice within their organisation.

This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:

  • London            Wednesday, 4th September 2019
  • Belfast             Wednesday, 25th September 2019  
  • Manchester    Wednesday, 23rd October 2019
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 
Understanding the Environmental Information Regulations
Damien WelfareCornerstone Barristers 
Damien Welfare
Cornerstone Barristers 
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 cover a wide range of information which has often been assumed to fall under the Freedom of Information Act.

The scope of EIR is not restricted just to "green" subjects or information, but extends to land use, planning, transport, waste, energy, agriculture, housing development, public nuisance, and aspects of public health, food safety, buildings maintenance and cultural sites.

Public authorities and their advisors, and those contracting with the public sector or carrying out public functions, need to understand the scope of the Regulations in order to handle information requests correctly. This session explains the meaning and scope of the EIR. It examines in detail the boundary with FOI, based on decisions of the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal and on guidance from DEFRA; including the potential role of a remoteness test in limiting the range of information covered. It analyses the "exceptions" and how to approach the public interest test.

The course equips practitioners to recognise and handle practical issues arising under the Regulations with confidence, and to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with information requests under the wrong regime. Topics covered include:
  • definition and scope of environmental information
  • application in the public and private sectors
  • differences between EIR and FOI
  • EIR exceptions, and how they compare with FOI exemptions
  • requests involving personal data
  • decisions of the Information Commissioner and Tribunal
  • charging
  • best practice: EIR requests and the duty to disseminate information
The session enables delegates to handle Environmental Information with confidence.
This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • London            Thursday, 5th September 2019
  • Belfast             Thursday, 26th September 2019
  • Manchester    Thursday, 24th October 2019
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 

Four-day Programme includes intensive training sessions and an examination  
The four day Programme provides candidates with a solid knowledge of Freedom of Information law (and the Environmental Information Regulations), as well as an understanding of the practical implications for organisations of the legal requirements, including how to manage an FOI request from inception to completion
The latest edition (Volume 15, Issue 3), features the following articles:
FOI and procurement - how do they  interact? - Paul Gibbons, aka FOIMan
FOIA in 2018 - key cases - Louise Jones, Guildhall Chambers
Recent decisions of the Commissioner and Tribunal - Alison Berridge, Alexandra Littlewood & Ciar McAndrews  

For more information, please visit PDP Journals

Next training sessions taking place in London, Bristol and Manchester

Records Management Levels 1 & 2
These highly practical sessions provide a thorough grounding and examine the core concepts of good records management practice  

PDP Training Catalogue 2019 
Download our latest Training Catalogue for a comprehensive list of 2019 courses and qualifications for those working in Freedom of Information, Data Protection and Information Compliance

Flexible training options allow you to train alongside other commitments   
"I am very pleased to have achieved the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information. The programme provides excellent knowledge and understanding on the practical applications of handling requests for information"
Louise Smith
Financial Ombudsman Service

"A very worthwhile qualification which I wholeheartedly recommend to colleagues"
Barbara Tyldesley
The Environment Agency

"I am so pleased to have passed the Practitioner Certificate in FOI. The 4 day course was excellent and I am now confident in my role as FOI Officer for Social Services. The course has helped me develop my skills and knowledge of FOI/EIR and DP and I would encourage anyone working in this area to attend."
Rachael Strand
Flintshire County Council

"The Practitioner Certificate in FOI was an excellent opportunity to receive specialised training and gain a recognised qualification. In particular, I found the instructors to be both knowledgeable and engaging. As a regulator in an overseas territory, I was easily able to translate the learning into practice. I have and do encourage other FOI practitioners to take advantage of this training programme."
Clara Smith
Information Commissioner's Office (Grand Cayman)

"I am delighted to have passed my examination, achieving this qualification and attending the courses have been a very positive experience which have boosted my confidence and enthusiasm for this subject. I found the courses very informative and the course handout binders are an excellent reference tool which is very relevant to the workplace."

Julie Johnson
Durham County Council

"I'm delighted to have passed the exam; it was hard work preparing for an exam, having not sat one for over 10 years, but the course materials really helped structure my revision. Passing has increased my confidence in dealing with the Act which will be of benefit to myself as well as my organisation."

Heledd Thomas
Comisiynydd y Gymraeg

"I found this to be a comprehensive course, which was well structured to be relevant and of interest to everyone from FOI beginners to more seasoned practitioners. The course tutors were very knowledgeable and clearly very interested in their respective topic areas, and the course was similarly detailed and well-taught."
Mark Reynolds

"I'm thrilled to have gained this qualification. FOI can be a complicated area to understand and apply, but the tutors were excellent in bringing it to life in an interesting way."
Angela Sanderson
Big Lottery Fund

"The Practitioner's Certificate has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to undertake my role. I found the courses well presented and easy to follow. The case studies are particularly useful, as they give an insight into different scenarios that one may experience. I would recommend PDP to anyone wanting to gain this qualification."
Kim Starbuck
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham


"Both the thought provoking training and materials as well as passing the exam will help to ensure we provide a prompt quality service when dealing with information requests particularly as those involving planning can raise complex issues"
John Pierce
The Department for Communities and Local Government


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