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The day in FOIA: politics in the Niger Delta, public servants expenses, olympic torch costs and roadside camera blind spots

Nigeria: British Govt Releases 2009 Letter of Tony Baldry

The British Government has finally released, but partly, the September 2009 letter on behalf of former Delta State governor James Ibori that it received from a Conservative Member of Parliament, Tony Baldry.

The letter, which ignited a Freedom of Information (FOI) controversy in 2010, demonstrates why Mr. Baldry did not want it in the hands of the public: while he did not make a direct case for Ibori or his associates, the letter was a disguised, intensely-sympathetic appeal to the government to intervene on their behalf.

The granting of the FOI request was made in a letter dated July 31, 2012, from Jonathan Drew, a Deputy Head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to author and blogger Richard Wilson.

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Abiodun Oluwarotimi | All Africa | August 25th

Public Servants’ £1.5bn expenses claims

THE recent revelation made under Freedom of Information laws that public servants charged £1.5bn of expenses to taxpayer- funded credit cards despite David Cameron’s pledge to end the practice surely shows the FOI laws serve a useful purpose.

Former prime minister Tony Blair says he believes the law that his government introduced was wrong. Mr Blair is wrong.

The FOI act needs strengthening, on the US and Swedish models Secondly I find myself in agreement with former prime minister Gordon Brown when he invokes Britain’s Olympic medal success as an argument against Scottish independence.

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Andover Advertiser | August 24th 2012

Manchester MP slams £300k bill for Olympic torch relay

London 2012 organisers have been slammed for making cash-strapped town halls pay towards the Olympic torch relay.

Greater Manchester’s councils spent more than £300,000 on security, entertainment and other costs associated with the event. Across the north west, the figure is expected to top £1m.

Now Manchester MP Graham Stringer – who uncovered the costs using the Freedom of Information Act – has claimed Olympic organisers should have stumped up the cash themselves.

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Manchester Evening News | August 25 2012

Cornwall Council still spending millions on temp staff

Cornwall Council is continuing to spend millions of pounds on outside consultants and agency staff.

A freedom of information request to the authority has shown that over the last 22 months a total of £21,411,368, including all the associated costs, has been spent.

One of the highest costs was for the commercial lead role in the strategic partnership project, described as one of the biggest service privatisations’ Cornwall Council has ever undertaken.

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August 24th 2012

Roadside cameras suffer from large gaps in coverage, police admit

Police chiefs have admitted there are flaws in a “big brother” surveillancesystem that enables them to track and store the daily journeys of millions of motorists.

The police chief who co-ordinates the growing network of more than 5,000 roadside cameras, which records the whereabouts of 16m vehicles, said the network was patchy and left”large gaps in coverage in various parts of the country”.

Police made the admissions as they won a freedom of information tribunal to keep secret the locations of the the cameras, arguing that disclosure would allow criminals to evade detection.

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SA Mathieson and Rob Evans | The Guardian | @7th August 2012

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