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Three new bodies subject to FoIA

The Ministry of Justice has just increased the scope of the FoIA to include three new bodies, its official website announced this week.

From now on, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the university admissions body UCAS, and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will be subject to the legislation.

Justice Minister Lord McNally, who signed the order on November 1, said: “The public clearly deserves a Government that is open and accountable for its actions, but I strongly believe that this should also apply to any organization exercising public functions.”

According to Lord McNally, all three bodies were open to the idea of being brought under the FoIA umbrella while the government plans to invite a range of other bodies to join them.

MoJ has also announced plans of post legislative scrutiny to find out how the Act operates.

Doctors are allowed to work despite serious malpractice

Of the 102 doctors the General Medical Council wanted to erase from the register last year for malpractice, only 40 were finally struck off, as an FoIA request to the regulator reveals. The Times reports this is because these cases are examined by independent adjudication panels the GMC has no right to appeal. The doctors who remained registered include a doctor who slept with two mentally ill patients and Gideon Lauffer, a doctor the regulator recommended to be struck off after the deaths of two patients.

Scotland sees 20 per cent rise in FoIA appeals

The Herald reports a 20 per cent rise of appeals to responses to freedom of information requests during the first three months of 2011. Three-quarters of those appeals came from members of the public, whose use of the law has increased while MSPs are responsible for just 1% of the applications to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

EEAS paramedics take almost a month off sick

Members of the East of England Ambulance Service have missed 23,000 days sick since 2009, a FoIA request has revealed. The Daily Telegraph reports that this is the equivalent of all staff taking 25 days off per year. The service has paid £37.5m in overtime payments in the last four years and was the only trust in the country to fail meeting the target of answering 75 per cent of the most urgent calls within 8 minutes during July.

Commons Speaker squanders public money in lavish suits

The Daily Mail and the Sun report today on Commons Speaker John Bercow’s lavish lifestyle. Mr Bercow, who has a £146,000 salary, spent £3,700 of public money on just two suits, a FoIA request revealed, bringing his vow to restore public trust in Parliament into question.

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