Freedom of Information at 250

'Freedom of Information at 250' was an Article 19 event held at the Free Word Centre with the support of the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and the Embassies of Sweden and Finland. The event took place on 8 Dec 2016.


  1. Background
  2. On 2 December 1766, the world’s first-ever freedom of information law was signed into law. It had been promulgated by the Riksdag – Parliament – of Sweden and Finland, which at the time was one country.
  3. The 1766 Law is the oldest constitution to regulate freedom of information in the world and is thus celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2016. It pioneered public access to state information, making what was then Sweden and Finland the first country in the world to officially instigate a Right to Information law.
  4. The aim of this event was to commemorate, celebrate and scrutinise the adoption of this law as well as to discuss its relevance and significance today, in a national as well as in a global context.
  5. There were two moderated discussions and a panel discussion in the format of a conversation which are captured in the tweets below from the attendees. There is also a selection of resources and reaction to the day at the end of the collection of tweets .
  6. Introductions
  7. Session 1: Freedom of Information Act (FOI) in the UK and Europe
  8. In the first session the current challenges as well as possibilities of the Freedom of Information Act, both in a UK and European context, were discussed with:
  9. Maurice Frankel, Director, and Des Wilson, Founder, of Campaign for Freedom of Information (CFOI) – the organisation that, in 1984, founded to secure a legal right to public-held information.
  10. Helen Darbishire Director of Access Info Europe – dedicated to promoting and protecting the right of access to information particularly in European countries and institutions.
  11. The session was moderated by James Michael, Chair of the Advisory Board at Information Law and Policy Centre (IALS) and Special Adviser to the House of Lords Committee considering the Freedom of Information Bill pre-2000.