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Pubs, casinos, sex offences: the day in FoIA

Government report on pub laws was written by lobbyists

A government report on regulating pub companies was partially written by industry lobbyists, the Independent revealed today. Freedom of Information requests showed that civil servants had copied and pasted large sections of the report from a document by the British Beer and Pub Association. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills concluded in 2007 that the pub industry was incapable of reform after an estimated 700 pubs closed due to increased rent and beer charges. All-party parliamentary group Save The Pub said BIS emails revealed “ a wholly inappropriate relationship” between the department and the BBPA.

Welsh new school system scores released

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC has opened the controversial ‘banding’ of Welsh schools for scrutiny, allowing parents to see where their school stands in the ranks. Schools were divided in December into five performance bands that the government says help it allocate resources. Campaigners and teachers’ unions claim the bands are unrepresentative and unfair.

High risk healthcare ‘will suffer if medical cover is privatised’

Doctors are warning that life-saving procedures could vanish from the NHS if a compensation fund is privatised, the Guardian reported. Spokesmen for the British Medical Association said the mooted scrapping of the NHS-wide insurance plan could leave riskier medicine off-limits due to the cost of private insurance. Journalists used FOI laws to obtain a Cabinet Office plan to privatise the insurance fund in partnership with the Confederation of British Industry, which regarded the move as a “potential opportunity”.

Scots business quango splashed on Vegas trip

A tax-funded business quango spent over £500,000 on hotel rooms and casino jaunts in the last two years, according to FOI requests by the Taxpayer’s Alliance. The body, charged with encouraging investment in Scottish business, incurred £2.3m expenses of which £1,700 was spent in Las Vegas, £1,300 at a seven-star Abu Dhabi hotel, £1,000  at a cufflinks shop, and £10,493 at two New York restaurants.

Report reveals sex offences in the Australian military

Australia’s Channel Seven News uncovered a “Hot Issues Brief” describing 100 major disciplinary breaches in Australia’s armed forces. Defence documents described alleged sexual assaults on Navy ships, including a senior officer accused of videotaping sex acts with junior sailors seven months after assaulting a female shipmate, the Telegraph reports. 

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