Richard Thomas (lawyer)

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Richard Thomas
Richard thomas lawyer.jpg
Residence Reigate, Surrey
Term As UK Information Commissioner December 2, 2002 - June 28, 2009[1]
Predecessor Elizabeth France
Successor Christopher Graham
Spouse(s) Julia Clarke (m. 1974)
Children 3

Richard James Thomas CBE is best known for his tenure as Information Commissioner of the United Kingdom, a post which he held from December 2002 to June 2009.[2][3] During his time in office, he raised concerns over the increased use of closed-circuit television (CCTV)[4] and the introduction of ID Cards[5] in the UK.

Thomas is currently Deputy Chairman and co-opted Council Member of the Consumers' Association, Trustee / Director of Whitehall & Industry Group and was Chairman of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council from 1 September 2009 until its abolition in August 2013.[6] He is also a visiting professor of Law at Northumbria University.[7]

Born in June 1949, the son of a magistrate, Thomas attended public school and studied law at Southampton University in the late 1960s (he was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from this same university).[8][9]

In his early career, he worked as an articled clerk and solicitor with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (from 1971) and the Citizens Advice Bureau, Notting Hill (from 1974). He then went on to work in legal and public affairs positions with the National Consumer Council (from 1979) and the Office of Fair Trading.[2][10] While at the National Consumer Council he was also involved with the Campaign for Freedom of Information and had a secondary involvement in the publishing of a book of essays entitled Consuming Secrets.[10][11]

Before appointment as Information Commissioner, he was the first Director of Public Policy at Clifford Chance.[10]

He has been married to Julia Clarke since 1974 and they have three adult children. He and his wife live in Reigate, Surrey.[10]

Thomas was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours "for public service".[13][14]

Leveson enquiry[edit]

A document submitted to the Leveson Inquiry by witness Alec Owens indicates that Richard Thomas refused to prosecute perpetrators of phone hacking, despite receiving a recommendation that "all parties identified as being involved be jointly prosecuted for 'conspiracy to breach the Data Protection Act 1998'."[15]


  1. ^ "Written Ministerial Statement - Appointment of Information Commissioner". The official site of the Prime Minister’s Office. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-05-19. Mr Graham will replace the present Commissioner, Richard Thomas, when he retires from the post on 28 June 2009.. 
  2. ^ a b Management Board on Information Commissioner's Office official site, accessed September 16, 2007
  3. ^ McNally, Paul (2009-01-13). "Christopher Graham is new Information Commissioner". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2009-01-13. The Ministry of Justice has selected Advertising Standards Authority director general Christopher Graham to replace Richard Thomas as Information Commissioner. 
  4. ^ Warning over 'talking CCTV' plans, BBC News Online, May 1, 2007, accessed September 16, 2007
  5. ^ Patrick Foster, Big Brother surveillance means no one is safe, experts warn, The Times, March 27, 2007, accessed September 16, 2007
  6. ^ ICO website, Richard Thomas' discolsure of interests, accessed 29 June 2009
  7. ^ New visiting professor appointments for Northumbria’s Law School, Northumbria University News website, March 9, 2007, accessed September 16, 2007
  8. ^ University recognises distinguished achievements with honorary degree awards, University of Southampton News website, July 19, 2007, accessed September 16, 2007
  9. ^ "The Guardian profile: Richard Thomas". Guardian Unlimited. July 1, 2005. Retrieved September 16, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b c d David Hencke, The Guardian profile: Richard Thomas, Guardian Unlimited, July 1, 2005, accessed September 16, 2007
  11. ^ Rosemary Delbridge & Martin Smith (Eds.), Consuming Secrets: How official secrecy affects everyday life in Britain, National Consumer Council, 1982. Catalogue reference at the British Library, accessed September 16, 2007
  12. ^ Richard Thomas, quoted in ID plan excessive, says watchdog, BBC News Online, June 27, 2005, accessed September 16, 2007
  13. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 8. 
  14. ^ CBE for Information Commissioner, BBC News Online, June 12, 2009, accessed June 15, 2009
  15. ^
Government offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth France
United Kingdom Information Commissioner
Succeeded by
Christopher Graham