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CPS and police pay out £600,000 after child witness put at risk

The Crown Prosecution Service and Met Police paid a family more than £600,000 in damages and costs after a child witness was identified to a gang. The BBC reports: “The 16-year-old boy had been promised anonymity to give evidence about a violent gang attack, but details were inadvertently passed to gang members.”The information was disclosed to the BBC after Freedom of Information request.

In a statement, the boy, his mother and her partner told BBC News they had been left with “no option” but to leave their homes, careers, families and friends “without even being able to say goodbye”.

In December 2010, the CPS revealed – following a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC about civil claims – it had made a payment of £350,000 but refused to provide further information.

The BBC appealed to the Information Commissioner and was told by the CPS in December 2011 that the claim related to a “failed request for anonymity at a trial”. No other information was given.

It was only after a further request to senior prosecution officials that the CPS agreed to provide fuller details about the case.

BBC wins its legal battle to suppress Israel Report

The UK Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the BBC‘s refusal to publish a report into its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lawyer Steven Sugar, who passed away last year, made a Freedom of Information request in 2005 for disclosure of the 20,000-word Balen Report, which examined the corporation’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

His widow, Fiona Paveley, took up his appeal.  Her lawyer, Michael Levey, said the family were ‘considering their options’ after the Supreme Court dismissed the latest appeal after ruling the report was ‘outside the scope’ of the FoI Act. The BBC argued it was exempt from revealing information it held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature’.

Tory MP Mike Freer, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, said: ‘This is the worst of all outcomes.

‘It fuels suspicion they have got something to hide.’

A spokesman for the BBC insisted it did not have anything to hide about its Middle East coverage but had pursued the case to defend its right to protect information about its journalism.

Olympic ticket ‘secrecy’ criticised

Olympics organisers have been criticised for being secretive about ticket sales, the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Times and The Independent report.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has been able to withhold information about ticket prices and has refused to share details of sales with the public due to its status as a private company. This makes it exempt from Freedom of Information requests, the London Assembly’s economy, culture and sport committee noted.

After a two-year campaign, the committee is still demanding answers to a range of questions about the 8.8 million Olympic and two million Paralympics tickets for the public. In late 2010, London 2012 suggested that out of 8.8 million Olympic tickets, 2.5 million (28%) would cost £20 or less. It has refused to provide information to prove whether cheaper tickets were spread equally across all events, or concentrated in events such as football, where supply exceeds demand.

Committee chairman Dee Doocey said: ‘Locog’s legal status should not excuse them from the transparency and openness we expect in other areas of public life.’ ‘It is completely unacceptable that an organisation that only exists because of a huge investment of public money can hide behind its status as a private company to avoid questions it does not like,” he added.

Taxi firms get EUR1m for transfers

Two taxi companies each received more than EUR1million from the Health and Safety Executive for patient and staff transport in 2010 the Daily Mirror reports.  The payments were part of a total of EUR26million paid to different cab firms. Figures released by the HSE following a FoIA request show National Radio Cabs was paid EUR1.34million and the Corkbased Sun Cabs got EUR1million in 2010. Fianna Fail Health spokesman Billy Kelleher TD said the transfer of patients for treatments “is an essential part of the HSE service”. He added: “Equally, the HSE should tighten up and ensure that is no duplication of service or unnecessary trips made.”

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