Freedom of Information Act Cost BBC £3m

Published on The Guardian, by Ben Dowell, Sept 6, 2009.

The demands of complying with the Freedom of Information Act have cost the BBC more than £3m since the act was introduced in 2005, according to figures obtained through an FOI request by the Guardian.

FoI requests to the BBC have risen since 2005, from 971 in the first year to 1,141 to the end of July this year. The act has led to a number of newspaper revelations, including disclosures about the salaries and expenses of senior BBC executives, which the corporation published in June, partly because of the large number of requests on the subject and the cost of processing them …

… However the act has seen a number of newspaper revelations that may not otherwise have appeared. 

These include the disclosures about the salaries of senior BBC staff and their expenses which the Corporation revealed in bulk earlier this summer due to the large number of requests on the subject.

Revelations included the hiring of a Cessna jet by director general Mark Thompson to make an emergency return from holiday in 2004 and his purchase of a £99.99 bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée champagne as an 80th birthday present for Bruce Forsyth in February last year.

The BBC has also promised to publish the expenses of Thompson and the other eight members of the BBC executive board, as well as the corporation’s non-executive directors, every six months in order to cut the staff time and money spent on dealing with FOI requests. (full text).

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