Richard Thomas

UK Information Commissioner (2002-2009)
Global Strategy Advisor, Centre for Information Policy Leadership, Hunton & Williams LLP 

Richard Thomas was the information commissioner for the United Kingdom from November 2002 until his retirement at the end of June 2009. He was appointed by HM Queen and held independent status, reporting directly to Parliament, with a range of responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and related laws. The functions of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) include promoting good practice, ruling on complaints and taking enforcement action.

Thomas’s previous career included:

  • Director of public policy at Clifford Chance
  • Director of consumer affairs at the Office of Fair Trading
  • Head of public affairs and legal officer at the National Consumer Council
  • Solicitor with the Citizens Advice Bureau Service and Freshfields

 He has also previously held various public appointments, including membership of the Lord Chancellor’s Civil Justice Review Advisory Committee and the board of the Financial Ombudsman Service. He is currently deputy chairman of the Consumers Association (publishers of Which? magazine), a trustee of the Whitehall and Industry Group and a Board Member of the IAPP.

In 2008, he was awarded the IAPP Privacy Leadership Award by the IAPP and was voted third in’s global IT Agenda Setters poll. In July 2009, he was included in the Law 100—the London Times list of the 100 most influential British lawyers.

Thomas has been awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the University of Southampton and is a visiting professor at the University of Northumbria.

He was awarded the honour of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for public service in June 2009.

In September 2009, he took office as the part-time chairman of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC). The role of the AJTC is to review the accessibility, fairness and efficiency of the arrangements for resolving disputes between government and individuals.

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