Unhappy about the response you got?

If ...

  • You didn't get a reply within a reasonable timeframe
  • You did not get all of the information that you requested or
  • Your request was refused, but without a reason valid under the law

... you can

  1. Ask for an internal review at the public authority.
  2. Or go to an external reviewer such as an an Information Commissioner, Ombudsman, or Tribunal to review the decision or make a complaint.
  3. Either way, also use other means to answer your question.

1. Asking for an internal review #

In an internal review the request goes back to the original authority but gets handled by a different, often more senior, officer.

At the bottom of the relevant request page on Right to Know choose "request an internal review". Then write a message asking for an internal review of your request. You may want to include a link to the request page, to make it clear which request you are talking about.

In most cases internal reviews are free and should be pretty quick. It should take no longer than 30 days.

2. Asking an external reviewer #

If you are still unhappy after the public authority has done their internal review, then you can contact an external reviewer to review the decision or make a complaint. You don't have to go through an internal review before going to an external reviewer but they usually recommend it.

Who you should contact for an external review depends on what law governs the authority you requested information from. If you need a hand, you can always contact us.

To make it easier to send the organisation reviewing your request the relevant information, either include a link to your request on Right to Know in your complaint or print out the whole page of your request and all attachments.

Right to Know has no special facilities for handling an external review at this stage. You can leave annotations on your request keeping people informed of progress.

3. Using other means to answer your question #

You can try persuing your problem or your research in other ways.

  • Make a new Freedom of Information request for summary information, or for documentation relating indirectly to matters in your refused request. Ask us for ideas if you're stuck.
  • If any other public authorities or publicly owned companies are involved, then make Freedom of Information requests to them.
  • Write to your MP or other politician and ask for their help finding the answer. MPs can write directly to ministers or departments, and can ask written questions in Parliament.
  • Ask other researchers who are interested in a similar issue to yours for ideas. You can sometimes find them by browsing this site; contact any registered user from their page. There may be an Internet forum or group that they hang out in.