What the greens spend their money on
Jan 23, 2012
Bishop Hill in Climate: Sceptics, Climate: Ward, FOI

Leo Hickman reports that a group called the Request Initiative is pursuing an FOI request against the Charities Commission, trying to force them to release details of who is funding GWPF.

Request Initiative is an organisation that places FOI requests on behalf of charities and NGOs. It is run by a chap called Brendan Montague who, by strange coincindence, came to interview me in at the end of 2010, on the first anniversary of Climategate. At that point he explained that he was a freelance journalist and was writing a story about the Climategate anniversary. Strangely, nothing ever appeared. I therefore note with interest that he placed his first FOI request to the Charities Commission about GWPF in 2010. I wonder if the "freelance journalist" bit was therefore not entirely true. I can't remember whether we discussed GWPF and its funding at all but I wouldn't have been able to tell him anything about it anyway. My recollection is that we talked mainly about Climategate.

In passing, I note that the use of an intermediary such as Request Initiative essentially conceals the identity of the requester. I wonder which NGO is so bashful about its activities? When I chanced upon the original FOI request on the web, I asked Bob Ward - the most obvious source - if he was involved. He appeared to be very reticent about replying but eventually said that he had nothing to do with it.

As for the FOI request, it has now apparently worked its way up to the Information Tribunal. I can't see that it will meet with any success there. I'm no expert in the DPA, but I can't see an argument that there is a public interest in disclosing donors' names because GWPF are a bunch of liars (or word to that effect) meeting with much success. In fact I would have thought that GWPF the Charities Commission would have a good case to ask for their costs to be paid.

Update on Jan 23, 2012 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

On Twitter, FOI blogger Bainsey points us to the Information Commissioner's original decision and comments that the argument for the information to be withheld under s40 looks strong.

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