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Universities must bow to public interest in FOI requests

Charles Livingstone

Two recent high-profile cases throw a spotlight on the obligations of universities and other higher education institutions under Freedom of Information legislation. It is now clear how such institutions should respond when asked to disclose potentially sensitive material that they would rather keep private.

The issue first caught the attention of the media when a critic of man-made climate change theory requested temperature data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia: requests that were eventually upheld by the Information Commissioner. But interest deepened with the leaking of internal UEA correspondence that led to the so-called climategate scandal.

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