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A day in FoIA: Salmond intends to ‘beef up’ Scots’ FOI rights | Clashes over badger cull poses public safety risk | FBI Refuses To Turn Over File of Saudi Hacking Investigation | Australian Tribunal orders release of log deal details | US Navy Submarine Commander Faked Death

Scots’ Freedom of Information rights to become more ‘robust’, says Alex Salmond

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond today said he is ready to beef up Scotland’s Freedom of Information (FOI) laws amid claims that the public’s rights have being “unacceptably eroded.”

• First Minister calls for FOI law to be extended to quangos

• Scottish Government in legal row with Information Commission over EU independence advice

Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew warned this week that openness and transparency through FOI is now worse in Scotland’s public sector than when the landmark Freedom Information Act was passed 10 years ago.

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Scott McNab | The Scotsman | September 20 2012

Badger cull poses risk to public safety, ministers told

Night-time clashes between protesters against England’s imminent badger culland armed farmers pose a clear risk to public safety, ministers have been warned.

The campaign against the cull is set to be the biggest animal rights protest since foxhunting was banned in 2004 and has united the country’s biggest wildlife, countryside and animal welfare groups, hunt saboteurs and anti-vivisection campaigners. More than 57,000 people have signed a petition on the government’s website to stop the cull.

Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, who obtained the police warnings through a freedom of information application, said: “The cull could make the problem worse, it will cost farmers more than they save and the police have expressed their concerns emphatically. We are deeply concerned that the government are ignoring official advice on the practical difficulties of the cull.”

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Damien Carringdon, Leo Hickman, and Steven Morris | The Guardian | September 19th 2012

FBI Refuses To Turn Over File of Saudi Hacking Investigation Says File ‘doesn’t exist’

In defiance of the Freedom Of Information Act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has refused to turn over the file of a six month investigation of Saudi hacking and illegal film distribution in the US.

The FBI claiming the file “doesn’t exist” says it thus cannot comply with the Freedom of Information Act. The request was sent directly to FBI Director Robert Mueller more than three months ago and resent twice.

In fact, a large portion of the file, correspondence with three different FBI Agents working on the investigation, is currently held by journalist Jo Franklin.

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US Politics Today | September 19th 2012

Australian Tribunal orders release of log deal details

THE NSW government will be forced for the first time to reveal how much logging companies pay to fell native trees on publicly-owned land after a court ruled it was in the public interest that it do so.

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal found yesterday that Forests NSW must hand over information contained in its wood supply agreements, denied to the environment group the Nature Conservation Council of NSW last year after a freedom of information request.

In a test of the Government Information (Public Access) Act, which has replaced freedom of information laws, the tribunal ruled the information be released.
Read more.

Saffron Howden | The Sydney Morning Herald | September 21 2012

US Navy Submarine Commander Faked Death to End Affair, Navy Says

A Navy officer has been relieved of his duties as commander of a submarine following the discovery that he faked his own death in order to end an extramarital affair.

Navy Cmdr. Michael Ward II, 43, was dismissed from his post as the commander of the USS Pittsburgh just one week after he took command.

Ward was dismissed when Navy investigators found out that he had sent his 23-year-old girlfriend an email from a fake co-worker claiming that Ward had died, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act.

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Christina NG | ABC News | September 19th 2012

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