Richard Thomas (solicitor)

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Richard James Thomas CBE is 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.

Richard Thomas
Richard thomas lawyer.jpg
Born (1949-06-18) 18 June 1949 (age 71)
TermAs UK Information Commissioner 2 December 2002 – 28 June 2009[1]
PredecessorElizabeth France
SuccessorChristopher Graham
Julia Clarke
(m. 1974)

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]

The measures in the bill go well beyond establishing a secure, reliable and trustworthy ID card. The measures in relation to the National Identity Register and data trail of identity checks on individuals risk an unnecessary and disproportionate intrusion into individuals' privacy.

— Richard Thomas, On the National Identity Register[12]

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 enquiryEdit

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. 8 May 2009. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 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. Retrieved 16 September 2007
  3. ^ McNally, Paul (13 January 2009). "Christopher Graham is new Information Commissioner". Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2009. 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, 1 May 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2007
  5. ^ Patrick Foster, Big Brother surveillance means no one is safe, experts warn, The Times, 27 March 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2007
  6. ^ ICO website, Richard Thomas' discolsure of interests. Retrieved 29 June 2009
  7. ^ New visiting professor appointments for Northumbria’s Law School, Northumbria University News website, 9 March 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2007
  8. ^ University recognises distinguished achievements with honorary degree awards, University of Southampton News website, 19 July 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2007
  9. ^ "The Guardian profile: Richard Thomas". The Guardian. 1 July 2005. Retrieved 16 September 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d David Hencke, The Guardian profile: Richard Thomas, The Guardian, 1 July 2005. Retrieved 16 September 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. Retrieved 16 September 2007
  12. ^ Richard Thomas, quoted in ID plan excessive, says watchdog, BBC News, June 27, 2005. Retrieved September 16, 2007
  13. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 8.
  14. ^ CBE for Information Commissioner, BBC News, 12 June 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2009
  15. ^
Government offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth France
United Kingdom Information Commissioner
Succeeded by
Christopher Graham