Newcastle NHS managed to send a discussion about refusing a Freedom of Information request out accidentally – unfortunately for them they sent it to a journalist on a national newspaper.

The FOI was sent to Daily Telegraph reporter Olivia Goldhill who duly posted it to Twitter and then wrote a story for the newspaper. She had previously sent an FOI to the authority on an unrelated matter.

In hindsight the story sounds better than it is. The discussion sounds like one which may be had on a daily basis without any real negative attitude to replying.

The Telegraph report:

Staff then appear to consider how and why they might avoid providing the information.

“Am I correct in thinking that we do not have a current strategy document?” one asks.

Her colleague replies: “The strategy that we’re implementing is many parts. The planned preventative maintenance is all my own work for which I can express intellectual rights.

“The forward planning strategy is commercially sensitive and subject to executive approval.

“We could refer to the ERIC [Estates Return Information Collection] return which is in the public domain.”

The first employee then clarifies: “Can we say that our Strategy is commercially sensitive and refuse to disclose?”

You can read the full story here.

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.