BBC - FOI request

The request was refused by De Montfort University.

Dear De Montfort University,

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act to request information regarding the University's use of PR firms.

To be clear this request is seeking to understand how much is being spent on Public Relation companies and in what circumstances. We do not want marketing or communication budgets to be included. Any questions please get back to me prior to the 20 day time limit.

Can you please answer the following:
A) How much was spent per month 1st July 2017 - 31st July 2019 on PR firms?
B) What firms did you employ in this period and what were the terms of service? Please include any special projects or issues they worked on.
C) Between 1st July 2017 - 31st July 2019 did you ever employ a PR firm specifically for 'crisis management'. If so who did you employ, how much were they paid and what issue were they addressing?

Yours faithfully,

Poppy Damon
[Number Removed]

Freedom of Information, De Montfort University

Dear Poppy,


Thank you for your email request below.

Your request is being considered and if the information is held you will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt.

If the time taken to meet your request is likely to exceed 18 hours, we will contact you and ask you amend your request to bring it below this time limit. We will assist you with suggestions of how this might be achieved.

I may also contact you if the request needs to be clarified; this is to ensure that we provide you with the information you require.

Please note that some information you have requested may not be provided to you; this will only be information that can be withheld by law. In most cases the reasons will be explained to you along with your copy of any information that can be released to you.

In order to ensure a prompt response to any communication, please ensure that any further emails are copied to [De Montfort University request email].

Yours sincerely,

Tinashe Chikuzah
Information Governance Officer, Legal Services
Trinity House
T: 0116 2078962
E. [email address]
W. www.

Responsible for: Freedom of Information, Data Protection Act compliance and Records Management

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Freedom Of Information, De Montfort University

Dear Poppy


Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding. Your request for information has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our response is as follows:

We are refusing this request under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act as we believe the release of this information would prejudice, or would be likely to prejudice, the university's commercial interests. De Montfort University operates within a very competitive environment, in particular with regard to student recruitment and external sponsorship. The use of PR activity is an important tool utilised by the university, and the information requested, with regard to spend, which companies are used by the university, and the details of specific 'crises', is all information that could be utilised by competitors to gain a commercial advantage.

Because Section 43(2) is a qualified exemption we are required to undertake the public interest test. Whilst we accept there is a public interest in how universities spend money, we do not believe that this interest outweighs the need for universities to be able to operate on a level playing field within a competitive environment. As such we find Section 43(2) to be fully engaged.

If you have any queries please get in touch with me to discuss them. You might like to know that the University’s website contains a section on the Freedom of Information Act that lists other publications readily available from the University under its Publication Scheme.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Starkey
Information Governance Manager
Legal Services

T: +44 (0) 116 257 7655
E: [email address]

Responsible for: Freedom of Information, Data Protection Act compliance and Records Management

You have the right to complain to the University about this decision. If you wish to do this please write to:

Regulations and Complaints Manager
Corporate Services
0.13 Trinity House
Telephone (0116) 257 7694

If you are subsequently not satisfied with the University’s response to your complaint you have a right of appeal to the independent Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700

Most of the information we provide in response to Freedom of Information Act 2000 request will be subject to copyright protection. In most cases the copyright will be owned by De Montfort University. The copyright in other information may be owned by another person or organization as indicated in the information itself.

You are free to use any information supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial research purposes. The information may also be used for the purposes of news reporting. However, any other type of re-use, for example, publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of the copyright holder.

For information where the copyright is owned by the De Montfort University, details of the conditions of re-use can be found on our website at

For information where the copyright is owned by another person or organization, you must apply to the copyright holder to obtain their permission.

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