Every now and again, the reason for refusing an FOI request can provide a strong story in its own right.
Perhaps the best example I’ve seen of this was in this week’s Surrey Comet, which had tried to use FOI to get hold of information held by the London Fire Brigade into a fire at a council block of flats which left 100 people homeless.
LFB replied that it couldn’t release that information, with the Comet reporting:
LFB cited an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act regarding information relating to investigations that “may lead to the decision by the authority to institute criminal proceedings”.
That fact in itself was news to many, and was enough for London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to confirm they are investigating fire safety at the block of flats.
Of course, reason for refusal itself isn’t normally enough to stand up a story – unless you get a barmpot council refusing to release information on flimsy data protection grounds – but this story is a good example of the FOI process illiciting information even when the main request has been declined.
Of course, simply