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



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"The trainers were great, very knowledgeable and approachable. The examination was tough but that’s how it should be - I liked the format and the advice received beforehand, including practice questions, was really useful. The programme is definitely helpful to my role and I still regularly refer to the excellent workbooks."
David Ward
Information Rights Case Adviser
Department for Business and Trade


"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


"I am thrilled to have passed PDP's Practitioner Certificate in FOI and joined the ranks of a qualified FOI Practitioner. My knowledge of FOI, DPA and EIR has increased immensely and I feel so much more confident in dealing with requests as well as running inductions. I now feel that I belong in my role."
Anabel Raszpla
Senior Information Officer
Medical Research Council


"I am extremely pleased to have achieved the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information. The four day course was extremely informative and provided me with a large amount of information on the practical application of the Act, it really helped to fill the gaps. I would highly recommend this course to those working with FOI on a day to day basis."
Daniel Howard
Access to Information Officer
Electoral Commission


"I really enjoyed FOI practitioner programme - the tutors were real experts in their field. They went above and beyond to answer your questions and help you understand the material."
Michael Speight
Compliance Officer


"A very worthwhile qualification which I wholeheartedly recommend to colleagues"
Barbara Tyldesley
Data & Information Technical Specialist
The Environment Agency


“I am so pleased to have passed the Practitioner Certificate in FOI. The 4 day course was excellent and I am now confident in my role as FOI Officer for Social Services. The course has helped me develop my skills and knowledge of FOI/EIR and DP and I would encourage anyone working in this area to attend.”
Rachael Strand
Freedom of Information Officer
Flintshire County Council


“The Practitioner Certificate in FOI was an excellent opportunity to receive specialised training and gain a recognised qualification. In particular, I found the instructors to be both knowledgeable and engaging. As a regulator in an overseas territory, I was easily able to translate the learning into practice. I have and do encourage other FOI practitioners to take advantage of this training programme.”
Clara Smith
Appeals & Compliance Analyst
Information Commissioner’s Office (Grand Cayman)


"I am delighted to have passed my examination, achieving this qualification and attending the courses have been a very positive experience which have boosted my confidence and enthusiasm for this subject. I found the courses very informative and the course handout binders are an excellent reference tool which is very relevant to the workplace."
Julie Johnson
Freedom of Information Officer
Durham County Council


"I’m delighted to have passed the exam; it was hard work preparing for an exam, having not sat one for over 10 years, but the course materials really helped structure my revision. Passing has increased my confidence in dealing with the Act which will be of benefit to myself as well as my organisation."
Heledd Thomas
Senior Corporate Governance Officer
Comisiynydd y Gymraeg


“I found this to be a comprehensive course, which was well structured to be relevant and of interest to everyone from FOI beginners to more seasoned practitioners. The course tutors were very knowledgeable and clearly very interested in their respective topic areas, and the course was similarly detailed and well-taught."
Mark Reynolds
Data Privacy Legal Counsel


"I’m thrilled to have gained this qualification. FOI can be a complicated area to understand and apply, but the tutors were excellent in bringing it to life in an interesting way."
Angela Sanderson
Corporate Advisor
Big Lottery Fund


“I’ve been managing FOI and EIR requests since 2005 and I learnt so much from this qualification programme! I enjoyed the modules, the videos were really informative and I found the way the legislation was explained was easy to understand. The test at the end of each section was really useful.”
Sue Marriott
Data Protection Officer
Basildon Council


“The Practitioner’s Certificate has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to undertake my role. I found the courses well presented and easy to follow. The case studies are particularly useful, as they give an insight into different scenarios that one may experience. I would recommend PDP to anyone wanting to gain this qualification.”
Kim Starbuck
Information Governance Coordination
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham


"Both the thought provoking training and materials as well as passing the exam will help to ensure we provide a prompt quality service when dealing with information requests particularly as those involving planning can raise complex issues"
John Pierce
Case Officer
The Department for Communities and Local Government


"I found the training to be both informative and well-structured which helped to make a complex subject more understandable. The effectiveness of the PDP training is evidenced by my success, in what I believed to be, a challenging examination and also the fact I feel better equipped to function in my workplace."
Kevin Spedding
Data Protection Coordinator
Witherslack Group


"The course was interesting and very challenging and I must admit that I felt totally exhausted when I left the exam. The hard work and revision was all worthwhile and I now feel more confident in my role."
Teresa Evans
Information Governance Manager
Birmingham City Council


"I found this course challenging, informative and incredibly beneficial to my role. All courses were very professionally delivered and each tutor’s knowledge of the subject was excellent. It was clear all tutors were highly motivated with a willingness to share their expertise. I highly recommend this course to all FOI practitioners."
Andrea Dow
GHA Legal


“I am delighted to have achieved the Practitioner Certificate in FOI. The PDP training sessions were extremely well delivered and although challenging I found them to be an enjoyable experience. Gaining the qualification has not only given me more confidence in my role as Freedom of Information Officer but has extended my knowledge and skills in my role. I would recommend the programme to anyone working in the field of FOI ”
Christine Paciorek
Freedom of Information Officer
Durham County Council


Having attended the course and sitting the exam I have learned a wealth of information and gained knowledge, and an overall new found level of confidence, in a new subject area of which will come in very useful in the changing environment of information governance. I am thrilled to have passed the exam and gained the qualification.”
Kate Tregale
Information Governance Manager
NHS Bristol


“I’m really pleased to have passed this examination. The qualification is evidence of my professional FOI knowledge in my organisation. I would recommend this course to other individuals working in the FOI area.”
Julia Snape
Information Associate


“I am thrilled to have passed the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information. The course and exam were quite challenging but have given me much more confidence in performing my role. The accompanying materials were really helpful and are an excellent source of reference.”
Lisa Smith
Corporate Information Manager
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service


“The four training days gave me a sound knowledge base which I was able to translate into practice easily and I regularly refer back to my course notes and slides. The training was led by highly proficient experts who demystified the concepts. I would recommend the Practitioner Certificate in FOI to anybody responsible for this function.”
Deborah Pullen
Head of Legal & Regulatory Services
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust


“The course was interesting and informative, and even after working in this field for some time I realised there was still much to learn. It's nice to have an actual qualification to back up the advice and guidance I give!”
Steve Wilson
Senior Policy Officer
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)


“My knowledge of access to information legislation has increased greatly since attending the Practitioners Certificate in FOI programme. All of the Tutors and PDP staff were great throughout and I’d highly recommend the course to fellow professionals working within the field.”
Garry Dando
Access to Information Officer
Marine Management Organisation


“The FOI Practitioner Programme provides a very good understanding of access to information legislation and my confidence has increased immensely. The course content and materials are fantastic and I use the folders as reference regularly in my role.”
Leila Ridley
Information Compliance Manager
Islington Council


“Many thanks to the tutors and PDP staff for their support during the programme. The course was very helpful in my role and in preparation for the exam.”
Ravinder Singh
Information Manager
Technology Strategy Board


“The PDP Practitioner Certificate in FOI is a comprehensive qualification that gives FOI practitioners up-to-date knowledge and confidence in dealing with information requests.”
Judy Gough
Interim Information Access Manager
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority


“There’s a lot more to dealing with information requests than most people think! Proper training is essential, but it’s great that there is now also the opportunity to become qualified. The FOI Practitioner course and exam was very challenging, but well worth the effort and I’m very glad I did it.”
Jane Hay
Performance Officer
Purbeck District Council