Civil Society and freedom of information ? a missed opportunity?
University of Strathclyde

30 September 2008

 The University of Strathclyde, the Scottish Information Commissioner and the Campaign for Freedom of Information are jointly hosting an event to mark the launch of an exciting new research project which aims to explore the ways in which Scottish civil society engages with freedom of information (FOI). The launch of the research follows evidence suggesting that the FOI 'right to information' is not being used to its full potential by Scotland's voluntary groups and campaign organisations, with only 4% of the appeals received by the Scottish Information Commissioner coming from the sector.

The event will introduce the research project, while also providing essential guidance on how the FOI right to information can be actively used by organisations to further their own objectives. The event will also provide participants with the opportunity to discuss their own experience (or lack of experience) of FOI matters, and share best practice in the use of FOI.

Attendance is free to delegates from non-profit civil society organisations, but places are limited. A small charge to cover costs will be levied for academics and others (see below).


10:00 - 10:30
Arrival and registration (tea and coffee)

10:30 - 10:40
Welcome and Introduction
Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam, Scotland

10:40 - 11:45
Research, campaign & policy perspectives on FOI
David Miller, University of Strathclyde, Public Interest Research Network
Carole Ewart, Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland
Sarah Hutchison, Head of Policy and Information, Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

11:45 - 12:30
FOI - A User's Guide
Rob Edwards, Sunday Herald

12:30 - 13:30
Lunch (buffet lunch provided)

13:30 - 14:30
Workshop Sessions
Voluntary Sector (Chair: Nancy Fancott, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)
Community Groups (Chair: Vincent Waters, Association of Scottish Community Councils)
NGO Sector (Chair: Donna McSwiggan, Inclusion Scotland)
Trade Unions (Chair: Chris Barrter, UNISON)
Environmental Organisations (Chair: Lloyd Austin, RSPB)
Education (Chair: Sandy Longmuir, Scottish Rural Schools Network)

14:30 - 15:00
Feedback and open discussion

15:00 - 15:15
Closing comments


The event will be held at the fifth floor teaching cluster, Graham Hills Building, 50 Richmond Street, University of Strathclyde. A map providing details of the location is at A buffet lunch will also be provided.

Booking information:

Attendance is free for non-profit civil society organisations. To cover costs we will be charging a small fee for others to attend:

Delegates from non-profit civil society organisations: FREE
Academics: ?10
Students: ?5
Others: ?15

Attendance at the event will be strictly limited, so if you would like to attend we would ask that you confirm this as soon as possible, and by no later than 26 September.

 In order to confirm attendance, please email Kayleigh MacAskill from the University of Strathclyde (, providing details of the name, organisation, address, telephone number and email address of the individual attending, along with any special requirements, dietary or otherwise.

If you have any questions regarding the event, please do not hesitate to contact the University of Strathclyde on 0141 548 3606.

Kate Spence, the researcher who will be undertaking the study, can be contacted at

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