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The day in FOIA: Alex Salmond’s entertainment bill, 7000 operations cancelled in Wales hospital and outgoing Guantanamo detainees named by US

Alex Salmond spends £370,000 on entertaining

Alex Salmond spent more than £370,000 of taxpayers’ money on official entertaining during his first term in office, according to official figures obtained by the Daily Telegraph.

The First Minister’s private office paid out an average of £1,800 per week on food and drink between May 2007, when he took power, and his re-election four years later.

Mr Salmond ran up his highest annual bill of £115,542 – the equivalent of £316 per day – in the same financial year as the onset of the financial crisis, when thousands of families started struggling to make ends meet.

The Scottish Government finally relented and handed over the figures to this newspaper six months after we tabled a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The statutory deadline is supposed to be 20 working days.

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Simon Johnson| The Daily Telegraph | September 25th 2012

Decisions to cancel 7,000 Gwent operations ‘not taken lightly

MORE than 7,000 operations were cancelled in Gwent hospitals last year, more than in any other health board area in Wales.

But health bosses said many cancellations are made by patients, and decisions to call off operations for clinical reasons are “never taken lightly.”

Figures obtained by Plaid Cymru through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Wales-wide more than 50,000 operations have been cancelled in the past two years.

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Andy Rutherford| South Wales Argus | September 24th 2012

Leeds City Council pay out £1.2m to staff injured at work

Leeds City Council has been forced to pay out more than £1.2m to staff who have had accidents at work in the last five years.

Figures obtained by the YEP show an average of more than a hundred staff every year have put in personal injury claims since 2007.

A trip causing multiple injuries proved the most costly, with a fall causing back injuries also landing council chiefs a with a huge bill.

But the figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also show that an assault at work was one of the top five compensation payouts made over the past five years.

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Stuart Robinson| Yorkshire Evening Post| September 24th 2012

US makes public names of 55 Guantanamo detainees to be transferred to other countries

The U.S. Justice Department on Friday made public the names of 55 Guantanamo prisoners who have been approved for transfer to the custody of other countries, releasing information sought by human rights organizations.

The announcement, which reverses a 2009 decision, was a surprise to organizations that had filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking the information.

“We did not expect this,” said Omar Farah, attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. “This is an important development.”

Farah said the government’s action will be a boost for lawyers representing detainees at the U.S. military base in Cuba. “We can now advocate publicly for the release of our clients by name,” he said.

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New York Daily News| September 23rd 2012

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