Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 gives members of the public the right to access information held by public bodies.
The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a ‘public authority’ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Information held by Scottish public authorities is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Organisations that fall under its scope are affected in two ways:
- They are obliged to publish certain information about their activities
- Members of the public are entitled to request information from them
Organisations covered by FoI
The Act covers a broad range of organisations, most of which are classed as public authorities, that is organisations that spend taxpayer money. These include government departments and their executive agencies, councils and local authorities, health authorities, the police, schools and academies, museums and galleries.
Private companies are not covered by the legislation, with the exception of cases where a private company is wholly owned by a public authority. As such, an FoI request cannot be made to a private company. Under the DPA 2018, a person can request information held about themselves via a Subject Access Request. All organisations that process personal data are required to respond to SARs. Publicly owned companies are classed as public authorities under the FoI Act.
While the majority of sports bodies will not be subject to FoI legislation, it is possible that a range of organisations who are engaged in the sports sector – local authorities and schools, for example – are covered by the Act.
Arm’s-length bodies are listed in Schedule 1 of the Act. This includes the sports councils. Information relating to