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A day in FoIA: Rat meat sold to public, Prescott’s spending may be kept secret, PPI misselling, Scottish independence’s EU legal advice, Scotland home to more than 100 exotic animals

Cane rat meat ‘sold to public’ in Ridley Road Market

Cane rats and “shocking” quantities of illegal and “potentially unsafe” meat have been sold to the public in east London, a BBC London undercover investigation has found.

Secret filming in one of the capital’s busiest food markets has revealed butchers and food stores prepared to sell large quantities of meat that breaks food safety laws.

West African and environmental health officer sources told the BBC the Ridley Road Market, in Dalston, was a known hotbed of illicit meat activity, including sales of illegal “smokies”, a delicacy made by charring sheep or goat with a blow torch.

Yet a Freedom of Information request to Hackney Council reveals the last enforcement visits to premises concerning illegal meat in the whole borough took place in 2009.

Read more.

Guy Lynn | BBC | September 17th 2012

Details on who altered letter about Prescott’s spending may be kept secret

The government is threatening to block the disclosure of emails that reveal who removed key sections from a letter that exonerated Lord Prescott of false claims that he had used a government credit card for “cavalier” spending.

Despite a ruling from the information commissioner that the details be released this week, ministers may prevent the release of emails between the Cabinet Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Ministers are contemplating a defence under section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act that release of the emails may prejudice the “effective conduct of public affairs” or “collective cabinet responsibility”.

The emails centre on unfounded claims by the Tory co-chairman Grant Shapps, who was then a housing minister, that the former deputy prime minister’s “private office” had spent £2,000 on Whitehall credit cards, supposedly including a trip to an Australian casino. In fact the spending was entirely legitimate. The only untoward items were due to the government-issued credit card having been cloned.

Read more.

Randeep Ramesh | The Guardian | September 16th 2012

FoI reveals lack of accountability over PPI misselling

The FSA has not brought any enforcement cases against individuals for the misselling of payment protection insurance in the last three years and says it has no plans to do so.

London-based IFA Wexdon Financial Services submitted a Freedom of Information request to the regulator to find out whether individuals have been held to account over the recent PPI misselling scandal which could cost the industry around £10bn in compensation.

Read more.

Natalie Holt | Money Marketing | September 17th 2012

Scottish independence: Court hearing over government’s EU legal advice

A court hearing will take place this week over the Scottish government refusal to reveal advice on the status of an independent Scotland in Europe.

Scotland’s Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew has asked the Court of Session for an urgent hearing.

Under Freedom of Information laws, she wants the government to say whether it has received any legal advice.

However, First Minister Alex Salmond said to reveal the information would be breaking the ministerial code.

Read more.

BBC | September 17th 2012

The North-East of Scotland is now home to more than 100 exotic animals

DEADLY snakes, wild cats and herds of bison are now calling Scotland their home.

More than 100 of the world’s more exotic creatures are being kept under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in North-East Scotland, a freedom of information request has revealed.

A western diamond back rattlesnake, which has a deadly venomous bite, lives in one Aberdeen city centre flat.

Read more.

Deadline News | September 17th 2012



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