The Examination Board for the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information ("PC.foi") is comprised of the following FOI experts:



PDP Training | Damien Welfare - Barrister - Cornerstone Barristers

Damien Welfare
Former Public Law Barrister


Damien Welfare is a former public law barrister. He came to the Bar in 2001 after a career in local government, and also worked in central government. In his practice, he specialised in Information Law (data protection, freedom of information, and environmental information). He is the author of Cornerstone on Information Law (Bloomsbury, 2019), a one-volume guide to the GDPR, Environmental Information Regulations, and FOI Act. He is a contributor to Data Protection - A Practical Guide to UK Law (ed. Peter Carey) (OUP, 6th ed., 2020). Damien is a Member of the Examination Board for the Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection, and of the Editorial Board of Freedom of Information Journal.


Paul Gibbons

Paul Gibbons
FOIMan (Blogger)



Paul Gibbons is best known for his FOIMan blog, and is also a consultant and trainer specialising in information rights. Paul is the author of The Freedom of Information Officer’s Handbook.

Paul started his career as an archivist and records manager, holding the post of Parliamentary Records Manager at one stage. In 2003 he moved to the Greater London Authority to set up its FOI procedures and provide advice on the new law to the Mayor of London and colleagues. Since then he has worked in a hospital trust and in higher education in information governance roles. He has also provided advice to the government of the Isle of Man on the implementation of their new FOI law.

Paul has a Masters in Law (with distinction) in Information Rights, Law and Practice along with a Masters in Archives Administration. He is special contributor to Freedom of Information Journal



John Fitzsimons

John Fitzsimons
Cornerstone Barristers



John Fitzsimons iis a barrister at Cornerstone Barristers. He has particular expertise in data protection and information law. John regularly represents a wide range of clients in data protection claims and information law proceedings in a range of courts and in the First-tier and Upper Tribunals. He writes the regular case law update for Freedom of Information Journal and is also a contributing author to the leading texts on data protection and information law, namely “Information Rights”, by Philip Coppel QC (Hart, 5th ed 2020) and “Data Protection: A Practical Guide to UK Law” by Peter Carey (Oxford, 6th ed 2020).


Jonathan Baines Buckinghamshire County Council

Jonathan Baines
FOI Compliance &
Appeals Manager
Network Rail


Jonathan Baines is FOI Compliance & Appeals Manager at Network Rail.  He advises on data protection, freedom of information and privacy and surveillance matters. Jonathan holds a Master of Laws qualification in Information Rights Law and Practice from Northumbria University and gives talks and training on the subject to both internal and external clients.

Jonathan was recently elected as Chairman of NADPO (National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers).

He is also a Special Advisor for Freedom of Information Journal.



Patricia Barratt Lawyer Clifford Chance

Patricia Barratt
Clifford Chance


Patricia Barratt has been a lawyer with Clifford Chance since 1991. She has extensive experience of advising on all aspects of parliamentary and public policy related work with particular expertise in parliamentary procedure, freedom of information and standards of conduct in public life, including advice on corruption and political donations.

She travels regularly to Brussels for meetings of the European Services Forum Policy Committee, a pan-European organisation representing the interests of the services industry. She speaks frequently on freedom of information, and is a contributing author of the Law Society’s Freedom of Information Handbook, as well as co-author of the Clifford Chance guide to the Freedom of Information Act.

Patricia is a Member of the Editorial Board for Freedom of Information Journal.



Estelle Dehon, Cornerstone Barristers

Estelle Dehon
Cornerstone Barristers



Estelle Dehonis a public law barrister practising at Cornerstone Barristers. She works across a wide range of areas, including information law and environmental law. She is a member of the European Commission’s Multistakeholder Expert Group on the GDPR, which assists the Commission in dealing with potential challenges in implementing the GDPR across Europe. Estelle’s information law practice entails providing advice and advocacy in matters concerning data protection and the GDPR, freedom of information and environmental information. She has experience of appearing before the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) and of pursuing and resisting damages claims in the High Court alleging breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Estelle is a contributor to Coppel’s “Information Rights” (4th edn), having co-authored the chapter on “The Influence of the European Convention on Human Rights".




Liz Fitzsimons, Eversheds Sutherland

Liz Fitzsimons
Senior Associate
Eversheds Sutherland


Liz Fitzsimons is a Partner at Eversheds Sutherland specialising in data protection and freedom of information. She works for a wide range of clients, both public and private sector, including in the education, health, transport, energy and government arenas. Liz has experience in helping clients with complex and sensitive information requests, internal appeals, defending complaints to the ICO and working with the Information Tribunal. She has advised on publication schemes, FOI planning and strategy, contractual provisions and negotiations, confidentiality arrangements and related data rooms, policies and procedures. Liz also advises on EIR issues.




PDP Training | Hazel Grant - Partner - Bristows

Hazel Grant


Hazel Grant is a Partner at Bristows, specialising in public procurements, complex information technology projects and information law. Hazel advises on data protection compliance, government data sharing projects, responses to FOI requests and handling appeals to decision notices. Hazel is an editor of the Encyclopedia of Data Protection and Privacy, and a contributing editor for the Encyclopedia of Information Technology Law. She has worked with central government departments and other public bodies such as the DCA, DWP, Ofwat, Defra, VOSA and special health authorities. Hazel is a member of the Editorial Board of Freedom of Information Journal.




Robin Hopkins




Robin Hopkins is a Barrister at 11KBW in London. A major part of Robin’s practice involves advisory and litigation work on freedom of information, data protection and environmental information matters. He regularly appears in the First-Tier and Upper Tribunals on issues ranging from national security to commercial confidentiality, often against or alongside silks or senior juniors.

Robin’s notable recent cases include Bruton v IC and Duchy of Cornwall (Duchy of Cornwall a public authority for EIR purposes), Marriott v IC and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (police information on the “Jack the Ripper” case), All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition v IC and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK’s role in rendition to Guantanamo Bay) and Chichester District Council v IC and Friel (local authority planning decisions and commercial confidentiality).

Together with Tim Pitt-Payne QC and Anya Proops, Robin edits the Information Law Reports. He also regularly advises public and private sector parties on data protection duties and on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Robin is a Member of the Editorial Board of Freedom of Information Journal.


PDP Training | James Leaton Gray - BBC

James Leaton Gray
Head of Policy
& Compliance

James Leaton Gray heads the BBC’s Information Policy and Compliance Department. He oversees the operation of the Corporation’s systems for compliance with the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts. His team are involved in many high profile cases in this rapidly evolving area of the law.

James has been working in broadcasting, mainly for the BBC, for over 30 years. Before joining the Strategy Division he was a programme maker and spent much of his time in political journalism. He edited many of the BBC’s Political and Parliamentary programmes including Today/Yesterday in Parliament, The Week in Westminster, Westminster Live, and the documentary series Scrutiny. James is a member of the Royal Television Society and the Radio Academy.


PDP Training | Jackie Gray - Director - Dickinson Dees

Jackie Gray
Dickinson Dees

Jackie Gray  is a Director in the Public Services Team at Dickinson Dees. She has acted on a variety of PPP/PFI Projects and advised on a wide range of public sector commercial work, with particular expertise in BSF, IT and outsourcing.

Jackie specialises in Freedom of Information and Data Protection for Public Sector clients but advises on all aspects of information governance in the Public Sector.

Jackie has worked with public authorities on the implementation of FOI and advises on the application of exemptions in relation to specific requests, handling reviews and appeals and dealing with information requests and confidentiality issues in public procurements. She also advises on a wide range of data protection issues including data sharing arrangements, subject access requests, dealing with data security issues and advising on compliance programmes.

She regularly provides client training on FOI and DPA and speaks at conferences and presents seminars on information law issues. Jackie has had a number of articles published and is an Editorial Board member of the Freedom of Information Journal.


PDP Training | Hazel Moffat - Partner - DLA Piper

Hazel Moffat
DLA Piper

Hazel Moffat is a Partner at DLA Piper and is a key member of the firm’s Information Law Group. She specialises particularly in freedom of information, data protection, data sharing and privacy. Hazel has worked with both public and private sector clients on all aspects of information law including central government departments on major data sharing projects, global financial institutions, parliamentary authorities and the UK Information Commissioner.

Hazel is a Member of the Examination Board for the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information and is a Member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Accreditation Panel for FOI and data protection.

Hazel is a member of the Editorial Board of Freedom of Information Journal


Lynn Wyeth

Lynn Wyeth
Head of Information
Leicester City Council

Lynn Wyeth is the Head of Information Governance and Risk at Leicester City Council. Having previously worked as an MP and MEP’s political assistant, Lynn moved to her local council where she now oversees the Council’s Information Governance agenda including data protection, Freedom of Information, information sharing, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, transparency and CCTV. Lynn is the author of two books, ‘A Practical Guide to Handling Freedom of Information Requests’ and ‘Data Protection: Compliance in Practice’. She also contributed a chapter to the book 'Freedom Fighters or Lazy Journalism: Critical reflections on freedom of information' edited by John Mair and Tom Felle. She previously advised the Government of Jersey on the implementation of Freedom of Information legislation prior to its launch on the island. She is an Editorial Board Member and Contributor to Freedom of Information Journal, and currently undertaking a PhD on Freedom of Information and the media/pressure groups in local government, and any unintended consequences




Sign up for PDP's Email Newsletter


"I thought the distance learning worked really well. The material was great and the videos were very good quality and easy to follow. The ability to pick it as and when I wanted/could was really useful as well because it allowed me to work it in around my work and personal time."
Jonathan Drysdale
Freedom of Information Manager
National Highways

"I much preferred the Distance Learning option as I could not only watch the videos at my leisure when I was available, and I could watch them repeatedly. I could also rewind instantly to try to review/understand the points being made. I could also pause and reaffirm the information in the written version (I had requested hard copies be sent to my home). This was particularly useful to me."
Tony Finlay
Information Management
Department for Communities (NI)

"I thought the on-demand element worked well. It meant I could go back easily when I was revising. The self-assessment questions were really useful. Overall I learned a lot. For me long distance was definitely the preferred option as it fit well within my work."
Rebekah Taylor
Archive Manager
Independent Office for Police Conduct


"Very positive feedback from me. I found the eLearning qualification programme to be equally challenging and equally informative. I liked the way the training was structured into chapters/bite sized chunks which allowed me to dip in and out of the training but not lose any sense/momentum. I have already revised CCEA’s FOI Customer templates based on the wording and advice I picked up in the training."
David Wilson
Business Assurance Manager
Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment


"Overall I really enjoyed the course and found it really stretching (which is the way a course should be!). I liked the video/reading/test aspect. I think that worked really well."
Carl Bird
Senior Manager


"I found the qualification programme very easy to navigate and work through, and was thankful for the advantages of the distance learning format – i.e. being able to re-visit the materials whenever wished."
Eleanor Johnson Ward
FOI Assessor
The National Archives


"The eLearning programme was intense, challenging and there was a lot to get through, but I enjoyed it. The materials were excellent and very detailed - to university standard. The speakers were extremely knowledgeable, their expertise coupled with the written material made each section of the course easy to comprehend."
Dawn Pelle
London Borough of Islington


"I am very pleased to have achieved the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information. The programme provides excellent knowledge and understanding on the practical applications of handling requests for information"
Louise Smith
Information Rights Officer
Financial Ombudsman Service


"Overall, I was greatly impressed with the training. I sought the distance learning programme as I wanted to be able to self-pace the training and work through it on my own schedule - which this very much allowed for. An unexpected benefit was also being able to go back and revisit modules or chapters that I perhaps failed test questions on, to give myself a second opportunity to cover the materials."
Clare Hillis
Senior Manager


"I was delighted to have added an important feather to my professional hat. I felt at ease with the distance eLearning as I could revisit the modules in my own time. The training materials were comprehensive and of excellent standard. I highly recommend this qualification programme."
Sarah Otto
Data Protection Officer
Oasis Community Learning