A Right to Know on BBC Radio 4

Radio 4 Tuesday 27th Sept – repeated Sunday 2 October at 5pm and available online (for a week or so afterward) at:

This was an interesting programme in which investigative reporter Michael Crick and producer Martin Rosenbaum made a number of FOI requests to test the new Freedom of Information laws. They were successful in some requests – such as gaining access to Special Branch police files held on anti-apartheid protestors – but less so in many more cases. For example the Metropolitan Police simply ignored their request for the ‘shoot to kill policy’ and Downing Street mindlessly refused to release the Prime Minister’s Christmas card list on the grounds that to do so would offend those not included – though surely they would know this by fact they don’t receive a card!

Those interviewed included myself, Maurice Frankel of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, Patrick Lavelle, who is doing research on the Police and FOI at the University of Sunderland, Friends of the Earth solicitor Phil Michaels, and Paul Hutcheon who is political editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland) and has made a record 400+ requests. Those on the establishment side included David Chinchen of the Metropolitan Police, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, and the Lord Chancellor Charlie Falconer.

The highlight of the programme had to be Crick challenging Charlie Falconer’s idealistic rhetoric on openness with the ugly reality of delays and denials that Crick received from Falconer’s own department in response to his FOI requests.

3 Responses to “A Right to Know on BBC Radio 4”

  1. Gemma says:

    Dear Heather,

    I wonder if you can help – I am doing a Phd on The FOI (Scotland) Act, and I
    caught some of the radio four programme on FOI, broadcast on Sunday (repeat), but am trying to get hold
    of a manuscript or tape of it. I may then re-listen to it for research purposes! Do you
    know how I could get hold of a copy, and/or might you have one yourself?
    I have contacted Radio Four, but to no avail..
    Thank you for your help in this!

  2. heather says:

    I don’t have a copy but I will ask for one. Otherwise, contact the producer Martin Rosenbaum or Nicola Beckford.

  3. benjamin worthy says:

    Dear Heather,
    I sam also doing a PhD on the FOI act, the English one.
    I found the ‘listen again’ to be an interview with Alan Bennett!
    If you could help me obtain a copy I would be very grateful.
    Furthermore, if Gemma needs any help I would be glad to help her,
    Thank you
    Benjamin Worthy

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