FOIMan puts together his dream team to fly to the FOIA World Cup.

First, a declaration of interest: I have none. In football, or indeed the World Cup. From what I gather, this is probably a good thing.

However, as with all major events these days, the World Cup has fostered an internet meme. The starting eleven. Here’s BBC One’s which inspired this post.

So I thought I’d have a go at the UK FOI Community Eleven. This turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined. When you start thinking about it, there are rather a lot of lawyers, academics, practitioners and requesters who could qualify. And of course, I’m already a place down as I can’t leave myself out (there has to be some advantage to wasting a Saturday afternoon on this). So with apologies to those who haven’t made the final list (blame my ignorance), here is the starting eleven.

Manager: Frankel M.

Tactician/Stats: Worthy B.

Technology: Steinberg T.

Pitt-Payne, T.

Hopkins, R.    Proops, A.     Hasan, I.     Baines, J.

Gibbons, P.     Wyeth, L.    Ghafoor, B.     Turner, T.

Brooke, H.     McInerny, L.


Subs: Burgess, M., Cook, C., Higgerson, D., Grant, H., Knight, C., Monkey, F., Rosenbaum, M.

Referee: Graham C.

Officials: Smith, G., Smith, D., Wood, S., Entwistle, S.

The back room staff are clearly important. The manager goes without saying. There’s only one guv’nor in this field – we’d have no FOI without Maurice and the Campaign (@campaignfoi – and whilst we’re on the subject, please do donate here). And every team needs its statto – take a bow Dr Ben Worthy (@benworthy1). These days, technology is a key feature of any successful team, and Tom Steinberg (@steiny), who established (@whatdotheyknow) seems to fit the bill in this context.

High-tech graphics and gadgetry were used in the preparation of this post.
High-tech graphics and gadgetry were used in the preparation of this post.

The players are more difficult. I figured that those of a more legal bent should be in defence. So we’ve got Tim Pitt-Payne (@tpittpayne) in goal, along with Robin Hopkins (@hopkinsrobin) and Anya Proops in the back line (all of whom contribute regularly to the excellent Panopticon Blog, as does Christopher Knight, who is on the subs bench for now). Clearly they’ll have to fight it out over who gets the number 11. Joining them are Ibrahim Hasan, Solicitor and Director of Act Now Training (@actnowtraining) and Jon Baines (@bainesy1969), not technically a lawyer but possessed of much legal knowledge as evidenced by his Information Rights & Wrongs blog.

I decided that we needed people up front who can open up a tight defence with FOI. It had to be effective users of the Act. But who to choose with only two places?

Well, it’s a tough choice. But in the end I went for the maverick but effective style of Heather Brooke (@newsbrooke), whose experience and patience opened up MPs’ expenses, combined with the youthful exuberance of Laura McInerny (@miss_mcinerny), who’s proved herself a valuable player against DfE in the run up to the tournament.

Which brings us to midfield. This belongs to practitioners and bloggers in my view – connecting up the legal knowledge at the back with those making the pace up front. So here we find Lynn Wyeth (@lynnFOI) and Bilal Ghafoor (better known as @FOIKid). Tim Turner (@tim2040), of course, is always right (Tim will just agree with that, ICO staff reading will just smile wryly). And me? I’ll be flying up the wing obviously.

This is a big match, so the choice of subs is important. We’ve got the cream of journalistic talent, ready to replace any absences up front or in midfield. Several lawyers and academics are ready to fill any holes at the back. My thinking is that Matt Burgess, creator of the FOI Directory (@FOIDirectory) could cover either midfield or replace one of our two strikers. And in any case he’ll probably appreciate the time on the bench to work on his book.

Of course, the quality of the match will depend to a great extent on the referee and officials. The manager was hoping for Judge Wikeley, but it will almost certainly be Christopher Graham, supported by his ICO senior team (@iconews). Unfortunately this means that there’s a real risk of either Tim Turner or Chris Cook (@xtophercook – if he’s brought on) being sent off for abusing an official.

If football isn’t your thing, then you can just as easily apply this reasoning to cricket. Just imagine Tim Pitt-Payne as wicket keeper, the defence as seam, fast and spin-bowlers and the strikers as the top of the order. Tim and Jon are useful all-rounders in the middle of the batting. Or you could do something more useful with your weekend.

(You may have noticed that the above nonsense does contain some handy recommended websites and Twitter handles (in brackets) to follow, so there is at least some value to it. Maybe.)


  1. I see Tim more in the Pirlo role operating out of the middle rather than the wing where he will be flinging out the occassional pithy blog post and generally berating people he believes don’t reach his high standards.

    As for the likelihood of him getting sent off… I’d say its odds on


    Lee Gardiner

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