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Bush and Blair’s pre-Iraq conversation must be disclosed, tribunal rules

Bush and Blair’s pre-Iraq conversation must be disclosed, tribunal rules

Foreign Office loses appeal against release of extracts from phone call that took place a few days before invasion

Extracts of a phone conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush a few days before the invasion of Iraq must be disclosed, a tribunal has ruled.

The Foreign Office lost an appeal against an order by the information commissioner, Christopher Graham, to disclose records of the conversation between the two leaders on 12 March 2003. Graham’s order was made in response to a freedom of information request by Stephen Plowden, a private individual who demanded disclosure of the entire record of the conversation.

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Richard Norton Taylor | The Guardian | 21st May 2012

Revealed: Ministers dragging feet over key growth recommendations in Beecroft report

Ministers are dragging their feet over more than a dozen key recommendations from a confidential Government report on boosting economic growth in Britain.

The report recommends that parents should not be able to take flexible leave from work until Britain’s economy and public finances have recovered in 2017.

The Government is thought to be preparing to publish the Beecroft report after receiving a series of Freedom of Information requests.

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Robert Winnett and Christopher Hope | The Telegraph | 21st May 2012

Soldier-turned-poet Robert Graves twice turned down the offer of an honour from Downing Street 

Robert Graves used his Claudius novels to warn of the dangers of becoming too close to the centre of political power in Ancient Rome.

But newly released documents show that the soldier-turned-poet was equally sceptical about modern politicians – and twice turned down the offer of an honour from Downing Street.

Graves feared that his artistic independence would have been jeopardised if he had accepted either of the honours offered to him by two different Tory Prime Ministers – Harold Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher.

His reluctance to embrace the honours system is revealed in Cabinet Office letters obtained by this newspaper under Freedom of Information laws

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Chris Hastings | The Daily Mail | 20th May 2012

Council of Europe cost Brighton and Hove taxpayers £40,000       

Brighton and Hove taxpayers paid nearly £40,000 on hosting last month’s Council of Europe event, The Argus can exclusively reveal.

The figure has been labelled “ridiculous” and “a burden” as it has emerged that the conference’s declaration was all but agreed in advanced.

The total, obtained by The Argus following a Freedom of Information request, includes £10,000 spent on flagpoles and £1,574 on new posters as the existing ones in the Brighton Centre were deemed “inappropriate” by the Foreign Office.

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Ben James | The Argus | 21st May 2012

Anti-social behaviour: Dyfed-Powys Police chief warns of cuts impact

A retiring chief constable says police could miss crime such as anti-social behaviour due to UK government cuts.

Ian Arundale of Dyfed-Powys Police warns that much anti-social behaviour comes from people with health and social problems rather than criminals.

Mr Arundale warned of a growing “austerity crimewave” in some areas.

Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 89,702 non-emergency calls were received in 2011 by the four Welsh police forces.

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BBC Wales | 21st May 2012

Car hijack victims ‘failed by outdated damages law’     

A leading solicitor has called on the Department of Justice to review the law on criminal damage compensation.

Current law in Northern Ireland says criminal damage has to be caused by three or more people, or terrorist acts, before compensation can be paid.

Both the SDLP and DUP agree the current system is in need of review.

Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request show that, between April and September 2011, less than one fifth of the 474 criminal damage claims were successful under the “three or more persons” criterion.

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Aileen Moynagh | BBC | 21st May 2012

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