The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information legislation can be an incredibly powerful tool for journalists. This workshop explains how to make effective use of the UK Freedom of Information Act.

There really is no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.

Tony Blair, A Journey, 2010

These are the words Blair chose to berate himself in his memoirs for introducing the FOI Act in 2004. This legislation opened up the decisions, discussions and dealings of government to public scrutiny. Why was he quite so hard on this particular decision, amongst all the others he took while in office? Because it made his job, and the job of government open to greater scrutiny.

As it should be.

The course covers what information to ask for, the format, what you should expect to receive and the timeframes for getting a response to your request, as well as your options if the request is refused. It explains the pitfalls and when there is no point using the Act. Examples of stories that have drawn on information obtained under the Act are used to illustrate the course.

The CIJ’s expert trainers have years of experience in using FOI for journalism, and will show you how to prepare, execute and meaningfully use FOI requests to get your story.

All our bespoke training is led by experienced journalists and specialists and is always centred around real life application to ensure that participants leave with new skills that can be put to use immediately and with confidence. We aim to tailor our sessions around current investigations, so that while participants are learning skills they are also making progress on live research projects, returning with new leads and information as well as new tools and techniques.

The flexibility of our coordination team and our training network allows us to build a specific curriculum that will fit your needs and provide the most effective staff development for your investigative research. If you would like to discuss this process and get a quote, please contact us at tom [at]

FOIA without the Lawyer

by Brendan Montague and Lucas Amin

The Freedom of Information Act is an excellent journalistic tool that offers access to information held by more than 100,000 public bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In FOIA without the Lawyer, the authors share the methodology they have developed while running The Request Initiative and making requests on behalf of charities, NGOs and campaigning groups.

£7 Buy Handbook

EIRs without the Lawyer

by Lucas Amin and Brendan Montague

Human beings depend on the environment for their survival. Industrialisation and development, for all their benefits, have led to the neglect, damage and destruction of the environment all over the world.

£5 Buy Handbook

DPA without the Lawyer

by Jenna Corderoy and Brendan Montague

The Journalists' Guide to making Subject Access Requests under the Data Protection Act 1988 To order, please complete the order form. This handbook is the third in the series on access to information instruments, and follows on from the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) that were completed by Request Initiative for CIJ in previous years.

£6 Buy Handbook