13 Jun 2009View Comments
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has been honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours List and has been made an Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
But there has been speculation around Westminster that Thomas, whose term of office expires at the end of this month, has received recognition at a lower level than his status might suggest.
Thomas was indirectly responsible for the MPs’ expenses row by ruling that politicians’ spending should be published after a Freedom of Information request for the details was originally rejected by the government.
He has also been highly critical of privacy scandals involving lost data at the Ministry of Defence, HM Revenue and Customs and other government departments, as well as warning of the risk to individual privacy posed by creating a central database on personal information for the national ID card.
Thomas has perhaps become most famous for coining the phrase “sleepwalking into a surveillance society” in an interview with The Times in 2004.
Whitehall whispers suggest that someone departing such a high-profile public-sector position might have expected higher honours, perhaps even a knighthood.
Thomas will be succeeded next month as Information Commissioner by former Advertising Standards Authority chief executive Christopher Graham.
Other honours awarded to people within the IT community in the latest honours list include:
Dean James, chief operating officer, Corporate IT, Department for Work and Pensions - "for public and voluntary service".
Geoffrey Heath, lately chief executive, NCsoft Europe, "for services to the computer games industry".
John Maclellan, senior user, MoT computerisation, Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, Department for Transport.
Leonard Tyler, chief executive officer, EADS Defence and Security Systems, " for services to the defence industry".
James Rainey, deputy principal, ICT and Innovation Branch, Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland Executive.
Ann Williams, head of Electronic Vehicle Licensing, Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency, Swansea, Department for Transport.
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