Information watchdog will 'get tough'

The information watchdog has warned that it intends to get tough on official bodies which drag their feet over Freedom of Information requests.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it would take action against organisations which persistently failed to meet their obligations under the legislation. Failure to respond to requests for information within the required time, refusal to supply information without providing a valid reason, or ignoring requests altogether could all prompt action.

The sanctions available to the ICO range from issuing enforcement notices to reporting the matter to Parliament.

The ICO's head of enforcement, Mick Gorrill, said: "Organisations that take the Freedom of Information Act seriously will have advice and support from the ICO. The public bodies that continually fail to meet their legal obligations will face regulatory action.

"After monitoring authorities' compliance with the act, we will take action against those that abuse the system."