Monday, June 20, 2016

She's Asking for What?

On January 30, 2016, Mary Jones made a Freedom of Information request to the College of Arms. In her request, she asked:

I would therefore request information if any part of these fees [paid by petitioners for grants of arms] are paid to Mr Woodcock either for the work he undertakes on the grant or for his signature on documents and grants? If so can I ask how much this is, does Mr Woodcock pay tax of these amounts ...?

Well, heck, I can answer those questions, and I don't even work at the College of Arms: Yes (although a large proportion of those fees also go to the artists and calligraphers who create the grant documents, as well as to the costs of maintaining the physical building of the College); that information is not published by the College; and yes (even though by ancient statute heralds are exempted from paying taxes on their income).

She also wanted to know how many grants Garter Woodcock has processed since his appointment on April 1, 2010.

On February 8, 2016, she received a reply from Garter:

The College of Arms is not a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and is therefore under no duty to consider your request.

She has since requested the College review of the handling of her FOI request, stating that "the Royal Household [of which the College of Arms is a part] whilst not under any du[t]y does answer FOI requests."

Well, I'm guessing here, but isn't it likely that only sometimes does the Royal Household answers FOI requests?

Ms. Jones doesn't say why she wants this information, or what she intends to do with it if she ever receives it. Not that it really matters; most of the information that she wants can be found with a little searching on the internet. For example, there's a blog post from 2007 by someone who worked at the College of Arms for a summer which discusses, among other things, some of the fee distribution among the heralds at that time, at

Anyway, you can find the full text of Ms. Jones' FOI request, the College's response, and Ms. Jones' request for review on-line at the website of What Do They Know at

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