Ten ridiculous freedom of information requests

Posted on: 2013-01-16 in Resources   |   Tagged: foi freedom of information act

By @niamhlechou. Following @JimBeckham’s post on busting out a great story using FoI requests, we at the B2B PR Blog have been investigating just what kind of information the public (and clever B2B PR agencies) have been requesting of public-funded organisations.

As mentioned in our last post, for Tony Blair, introducing the Freedom of Information Act was akin to personally opening the gates of Troy to welcome in a cute wooden horse.

The Act, designed to increase government transparency and build the UK taxpayer’s trust, has been left open to scandal and abuse with a great deal of public servant time now obliged to being spent answering questions like “How many British children live with Satan worshippers in the UK?”.

Here are ten recent attempts by your fellow citizens to squander your taxes.

1.       Someone contacted the Natural History Museum, asking for a full list and family tree of all the species of falcon in the world, including hybrids, with their normal and Latin names.

2.       Various NHS hospital trusts have been asked to helpfully answer the question: “How long does it take to get a medical degree?”

3.       No less than thirty-seven zombie-related FoI requests have been made, to local councils and police forces demanding information about evacuation, and defence and attack protocols in the event of a blood-borne disease epidemic carried by the undead.

4.       Someone demanded of The Ministry of Defence information on plans to rebuild civilisation in the event of a nuclear winter.

5.       A man named Mark Smith submitted no less than five requests to Devon and Cornwall councils requesting information on what plans were in place for a comet collision with earth, extinction-level events, UFO attacks or alien invasions.

6.       The Civil Nuclear Police Authority received a request from one Mr Oose regarding the theft of bread. He explains his request stating that a loaf was pilfered in Warrington and was last seen heading in the direction of the CNPA offices, and consequently he wanted to know of any reported serial bread thieves.

7.       Cornwall Council was asked “How many holes in privacy walls between toilet cubicles have been found in public lavatories and within council buildings?”.

8.       Important information was requested regarding the number of Cabinet ministers who are also members of the Illuminati, and demanding the location of their secret Canadian meeting place.

9.       Cornwall Council, which seems to bear the brunt of ridiculous FoI requests in the UK, received a request asking for a breakdown of the most overdue library books – specifically the top three most overdue for each library in the region.

10.   And finally, my personal favourite. Josh Lillie asked the pharmacy branch of Tesco Stores Limited (the only part of the business open to FoIs): “What is the best type of cheese that you sell?”

These were all found on whatdotheyknow.com, I highly recommend seeing what others you can turf up.

Read more about the Freedom of Information Act

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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