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Sunday and Monday’s top FoIA stories

Cameron’s Big Society in lack of support

David Cameron’s Big Society plan which urges workers to contribute financially to charities doesn’t seem to move lots of his peers. According to the Daily Mirror, a FoIA request revealed just four MPs have signed up to his drive. This year, the overall number of people involved in payroll-giving schemes is down at 4,000 from last year’s 720,000.

Osama Bin Laden heir uses FoIA in bid to access visa-related data

Osama Bin Laden’s son used a FoIA request in an effort to access the full documents of his visa refusal according to recently published extracts of former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas’ s dairy. The extracts were published in the Mail On Sunday and reflect his anger with the way the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is “crippling the immigration system”.

Fianna Fail TDs lobbied for appointment of six judges

FoIA request procedures revealed that six judges were appointed to the bench after representations by Fianna Fail Teachta Dálas on their behalf. The Sunday Times reports that judges’ appointments in Ireland are subject to political influence, a condition that creates an “unhealthy lack of transparency” in the judiciary.

Public sector workers’ union income comes under scrutiny

The Sunday Telegraph has reported that more than £68 million of public money is spent on trade union jobs. But trade unions claim this practice actually saves money, since union representatives help to resolve worker disputes without going to court. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Workers and employers need unions more now than ever before”. Cabinet Minister Francis Maude, said that a consultation to reduce the time civil servants can spend on union work and end the employment of full-time union officials is already under way.

Scottish council indebted to private companies for millions of pounds

The Daily Express and the Herald report Scotland’s South Ayrshire Council has amassed an unjustifiable debt of £400 million to private companies in charge of building five new schools. As the data exposed under the FoIA legislation reveal, the local authority will have to pay more than £1 million a month for the next 30 years to pay back the deficit.

GPs’ patient lists full of discrepancies

London GPs have lost track of the number of people registered, a FoIA submitted by The Politics Show on BBC One, reveals. The information collected shows the total registered in the capital to be approximately nine million while the actual population is 7.75.

Most surgical operations in Wales’ hospitals are likely to be cancelled

Figures released under freedom of information show that the number of operations cancelled in some of Wales’ largest hospitals are more than those carried out with the number of cancellations rising from 25,802 to 26,312 during the last year. As the Western Mail reports, the lack of ward capacity is more often than not the reason of the cancellations.

Revenue officer sacked after posing as an accountant

The Sunday Times reports a female executive officer in Revenue was forced to resign after it was revealed she was charging almost £400 to process tax returns and make unwarranted refunds to her clients, while posing as an accountant. FoIA requests indicate she was caught after a tip-off from a member of the public in October 2008.

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