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Foreign Office fights order to disclose ‘key phone call’ between Bush and Blair

Foreign Office fights order to disclose ‘key phone call’ between Bush and Blair.

The Foreign Office is fighting to overturn an order to disclose the transcript of what has been described as a key conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush, days before the invasion of Iraq.

It is appealing against an order by Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, to disclose records of the conversation between the two leaders in March 2003. The appeal is being heard by the information tribunal which adjudicates on disputes over disclosure orders.

“Accountability for the decision to take military action against another country is paramount,” Graham said in his ruling against the Foreign Office last September. He ordered that part of the record of the conversation between Blair and Bush relating to the invasion “from the UK perspective” be disclosed. The part recording Bush’s views should remain secret, he ruled.

Richard Norton-Taylor| The Guardian| 28th march 2012

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David Blunkett: ‘government resisting freedom of information’.

Ministers are facing fresh scrutiny over their willingness to comply with freedom of information (FoI) laws, this time from former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who has launched his own investigation into the matter after the government’s “resistance” to publishing an NHS risk register.

Blunkett, who was a key figure in Tony Blair’s government, told Publicservice.co.uk there appeared to be “an increasing resistance by the government to comply with the Information Commissioner’s rulings”.

He had therefore decided to “investigate the extent of the government’s unwillingness to comply with its obligations under the FOI Act more generally” in reaction to what he described as “continued resistance” to decisions from the Information Commissioner and the Information Rights Tribunal over the publication of risk assessments on NHS reform. A draft version of the NHS risk register has now been leaked, but the government is yet to publish the document as it awaits a “detailed” ruling from the tribunal.

Mathew D’Arcy| Public Service.co.uk| 28th March 2012

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US Liberties group alleges FBI violated Muslims’ freedom of religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union obtain evidence through the US Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) evidence that the FBI had engaged in secretly collecting intelligence about Muslims, including details about a sermon delivered at a mosque.

The American Civil Liberties Union called for an inquiry into the FBI’s data collection, citing investigative practices from between 2004 and 2008 that it said raised the possibility of privacy violations.

The FBI defended its actions, saying the information in question was gathered as part of authorized law-enforcement activities, some intended to bolster ties with the Muslim community.

Police monitoring of Muslim organizations has been a concern across the country. According to reports by the Associated Press, the New York Police Department kept tabs on Muslim neighborhoods in New York and surrounding areas by sending undercover officers into mosques, meetings of college campus groups and local businesses, and keeping records of what they found.

First Post|28th March 2012

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£1m of fines imposed by magistrates at Northamptonshire courts in two year period still unpaid.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) have revealed Northamptonshire’s magistrates’ courts imposed fines of more than £8 million between 2009 and 2011, but collected less than £7 million.

In the financial year 2009/10, the courts in Northamptonshire – including Daventry and Towcester before they closed last year – imposed £4,234,122 in fines but collected £3,310,524.06.

In the financial year 2010/11, £3,951,019 of fines were imposed and £3,598,422 collected.

Northampton Chronicle|28 March 2012

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