Many public authorities find that freedom of information requests sometimes raise complex questions that can be hard to get right, writes Maurice Frankel

They nevertheless make a conscientious effort to answer them. But some assume that inconvenient requests can simply be set aside and ignored. Hounslow primary care trust is a case in point. The PCT ignored not only the requester but even a legally binding notice by the information commissioner. Only the threat of contempt of court proceedings has forced it to respond properly.

The trust's website states that it strives to be an "open", "responsive" and "innovative organisation that recognises the needs of its local community". Such objectives are not compatible with a dismissive approach to freedom of information. Authorities that hope to be trusted by the public cannot afford to respond to requests for information only when forced to do so by the law.

Maurice Frankel, director, Campaign for Freedom of Information