Charity reported over data protection issues

Leadership training organisation Common Purpose named individual making FOI requests about its work to public authorities

Leadership training charity Common Purpose has been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office for alleged breaches of data protection law.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency, which made the complaint, has also apologised to a person whose name it inadvertently passed on to Common Purpose after he made a request under the Freedom of Information Act about its dealings with the charity.

The name was then included by Common Purpose in a list of previous FOI requests about the charity that it distributed to public authorities receiving new requests. The charity said it distributed the list to illustrate the high number of FOI requests being made about it and to help authorities decide whether to treat new requests as vexatious (6 August 2008, page 3).

Some of the FOI requests come from people concerned that too much public money is being spent on Common Purpose courses for officials.

The agency has written to Common Purpose to say it intended to inform the ICO about the list. The letter reads: "If you decide to disclose the list to third parties, then please do so only with the prior express written consent of any individuals who are named or otherwise identified."

A spokeswoman for Common Purpose said advice from its solicitors and the ICO indicated it was not in breach of the Data Protection Act.

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