The birth of the Supreme Court has brought with it a number of Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) requests.

The website offers a way of submitting FOIA requests to various public bodies through the site.  Any such requests and responses can then be viewed (and commented on) by anyone.  While in principle this may seem like a good idea, some of the requests that appear on the site simply do not make sense and at least one is completely irrelevant.  For example, take a request made via the site on 8 November 2009 which seems to be asking for information on Norman Lamont’s position as a non-executive director of the company Phorm Inc.  The request asks if the Ministry of Justice can “give [Lamont’s] booty a shake” for information about him and the company.

The individual making the request does later apologise for his “improper and abusive” request, but what he hoped to get from it in the first place is not clear since Mr Lamont has nothing to do with the Supreme Court.

Some of the other requests are almost as obscure.  The first request made via the website on 18 October 2009 asks for the educational background of the Justices, the percentage of them that were born in the winter months, and their heights.  While a desire for information about the schools and universities that the Justices attended is understandable, such information is already in the public domain and is widely available (information about the education of some of the Justices can even be found on the Supreme Court’s website).   However, why someone would ask for information about the height of the Justices is less clear and unsurprisingly the Ministry of Justice responded to this request by saying that the Supreme Court does not hold such information. 
A number of the submissions made aren’t “requests” at all, but instead seem to be a means of implying that the courts are biased in favour of local authorities, or suggesting that judges are in breach of some fiduciary duty owed to the public.  Examples of this can be seen in questions such as “what information does your department hold about your fiduciary duty and is this to the people” and “state how many…judges have committed acts of gross mis-conduct by not declaring a conflict of interest i.e. having worked formerly for and/or in a local authority“.
There are some sensible requests (or at least requests that are clear in terms of what they are asking for), but what the majority are asking for is quite unclear.  The Ministry of Justice will have a job on its hands when trying to decipher some of them – perhaps it should start charging £350 per request …