BBC has spent £392,896 dealing with Freedom of Information requests

The BBC has revealed that it has spent £392,896 dealing with Freedom of Information requests over the last five years.

The figure has been made public on website whatdotheyknow.com where individuals can send Freedom of Information requests in a simple manner.

The request, which was submitted by a user of the site called John Booth, read:

I would like to receive a detailed list of all expenditure and/or
invoices paid for all legal work including advice and any other
related costs on individual F.O.I. requests.

Please also include the reference/title of each F.O.I. Requests
they relate to from 2001 to 2010.

According to the website the BBC spent £379,587 on barrister fees and another £13,310 on other costs such as external solicitors.

The costs relate to 16 FoI requests sent to the BBC over the last five years which have required extra legal expertise.

One of the the BBC’s most costly FoI requests has been for the release of the Balen Report.

The BBC has been involved in several years of ongoing litigation over an FoI request demanding that it publish the 2004 report into its coverage of the Middle East.

A BBC spokesperson said: “At the BBC, we believe in FOI as journalists and as a public body we believe we should be as open as we can be.

“These cases represent a tiny proportion of the FOI requests we receive, all involve important or unusual principles in this new area of law. The BBC’s unique status under the Act has lead to many of the cases being brought before the courts, where the BBC has had to defend its editorial independence.”

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