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David Cameron forced to answer questions over publicly funded flat refurbishment

David Cameron will be forced to reveal the expenditure on the lavish refurbishment of his bathroom according to the Information Commissioner’s ruling, the Daily Mail, the Herald, the Sunday Mirror, the Guardian and the Telegraph report.

The Commissioner, Christopher Graham, stepped in after the Cabinet Office, which oversees work on the 11 Downing Street flat breached freedom of information rules by not disclosing the full details of the money spent on the bathroom.

As the Mail states, the Prime Minister and his wife have already spent £30,000 of public money, the maximum allowed, on the revamp of the flat.

The cost of the overall refurbishment is expected to be double that, but a No 10 source said the PM and his wife have paid for the extra expenses.

The Herald reports that Labour MP Tom Watson, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, has filed a freedom of information request to the Cabinet Office asking for details of the changes to the bathroom and any instructions given to contractors by the Camerons.

The MP has raised concerns about the alterations to the Grade One listed building, because of its historic value. “Taxpayers have a right to know what the temporary residents are doing to such a historic building,” he said.

Scotland sees epidemic of underage crime

Data released by the police under the freedom of information act show that a total of 20,529 offences have been committed in Scotland by children under 16 in the past year, the Herald reports. These include two three-year-olds shoplifting, two caught for vandalism and a five-year-old carrying a knife. Central Scotland has recorded 63 offences by under-eights.

Scottish Minister under criticism for ‘overblown’ claims of carbon emissions cuts

According to the Sunday Times, Alex Salmold, the Scottish First Minister might have misled the public by estimating the carbon emissions cuts under the climate challenge fund (CCF) to be 700,000 tonnes. A FoIA request to Bob Irvine, the deputy director of the government’s climate change division, has revealed the CO2 emissions have been reduced by 125,866 tonnes. Nevertheless, a spokesman for Stewart Stevenson, the climate change minister, said the original estimate was referring to the lifetime of the ongoing projects while the figure released represents only the projects that have been completed.

BBC cover-up of Bernie Ecclestone Wimbledon tickets

The Mail on Sunday reports BBC is under scrutiny after allegations of attempting to cover up the fact it gave Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone tickets for the Wimbledon Men’s final, just two weeks before the Corporation struck a deal with him for shared screening arrangements of Formula 1 with Sky. According to the newspaper, after a FoIA request it was revealed Dominic Coles, the BBC’s chief operating officer, News Group, wrote in an email: “Rather than naming Bernie Ecclestone specifically, can we not say two tickets were offered for use by Formula 1 management?”
Civil servant performance-marking scheme might be inaccurate

The Department of Taoiseach and the Department of Finance have been criticised heavily by James Hamilton, the director of public prosecutions (DPP), for “grade inflation” of the Performance Management and Development System (PDMS), The Sunday Times reports. The revelation came after Hamilton’s letter was released under the freedom of information act. The performance-ranking scheme for civil servants was introduced in 2007, and although 30% of state employees were expected to be rated at “two” or lower, last year only 1.02% of staff received the two lowest grades. According to the Times, civil service managers, responsible for the ranking, fear of backlash from trade unions or grievance from those given low marks.

McKinsey consultancy cost millions of pounds

The Department of Health has been paying for the advisory services of American film McKinsley since March, the Observer revealed. The company, whose ongoing contract came in the public domain last week through a freedom of information released published on DH’s website, has estimated revenues of  £4.1bn a year and will be paid an annual fee of  £250,000 by the British government.

‘Super GPs’ can earn more than £750,000 a year

The highest-earning GP in the UK earns £770,444, a FoIA filed by the Daily Mail revealed. The Kent-based GP remains unidentified and is just one of the so-called ‘Super GPs’ that include a doctor in Birmingham earning an annual sum of £665,000 and another in Essex £412,400. The average GP earns around £105,000 with many earning between £53,000 and £80,000.

Government was aware thousands of internships might be in breach of NMW law

According to the Guardian, briefing documents addressed to higher education minister David Willetts and Lib Dem junior minister Ed Davey stressed that most UK interns might be entitled to the National Minimum Wage. The newspaper states:

“The government’s estimate based on Chartered Institute of Personnel figures is that there are between 50,000 and 70,000 internships a year. Between 10,000 and 15,000 of these are unpaid”. The documents, released after a FoIA by Interns Anonymous, also revealed that options that would increase social mobility were ignored for fear of damaging the government’s policy of increasing the number of internships available.

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