Michael Traill, a council worker from Portobello and prolific pursuer of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, has now begun his own blog to showcase his investigations.
Traill has made over eighty requests using the popular FOI website whatdotheyknow since joining the site in 2009. His requests often target public bodies in Edinburgh, such as the Lothian Buses, Lothian NHS board, Lothian and Borders police, and Edinburgh City Council.
I’ve tweeted Michael to ask him why he puts so much effort into all those FOI requests, and whether he has ever had any grief from Edinburgh City Council for his FOI efforts – here’s his response.
“I can’t remember why I started, I’ve always been nosey I guess. However, I don’t think that’s enough to justify a FOI request. FOI requests take a lot of time & effort for public authorities to answer, so I personally think they should only be used if one intends to actually do something with the information gleamed. Hence the blog finally coming to life, although some work required!
I get most grief from the Police. In my working life I deal with their officers day in day out. They often aren’t pleased I’m showing the Police in a bad light. Their staff at the Force Information Unit are some of the most helpful & diligent I deal with when it comes to FOIs. We sometimes disagree and they sometimes get things wrong but when they do they get it sorted ASAP. As for making the Police look bad, it’s not my fault. The facts are the facts!
The Evening News are good enough to run with some of my FOIs, and sometimes let me get a quote in! In the future I’d like to take some form of journalism course and possibly write my own articles from scratch. Starting my own blog will be good practice.”