Author Archive

Ben Worthy

Ben Worthy is a Lecturer in Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. His research interests include government transparency, open data, and political leadership. Together with Robert Hazell, Professor of Government and the Constitution at University College London, he is the author of the recent article “Disruptive, Dynamic and Democratic? Ten Years of FOI in the UK” (free to read online for a limited time) published in Parliamentary Affairs.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act has been in the news again, when the controversial Independent Commission, much to the surprise of many, concluded the Act was ‘generally working well’, had ‘enhanced openness and transparency… there is no evidence that the Act needs to be radically altered’. How can this be squared with the claims of Tony Blair, who passed the Freedom of Information Act back in 2000, that the law is one of his greatest regrets? Blair spent some time in his memoirs bemoaning how terrible and counter-productive FOI was: The truth is that the FOI Act isn’t used, for the most part, by ‘the people’. It’s used by journalists. For political leaders, it’s like saying to someone who is hitting …