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Free schools: government ordered to publish list of bids

Free schools: government ordered to publish list of bids

Michael Gove must reveal the names, location and religious affiliation, if any, of all those organisations that apply to join the government’s free schools programme, a tribunal has ruled.

It rejected an attempt by the education secretary to limit any information only to successful applicants, saying that the programme, which establishes state-funded schools free of local authority control, involved substantial public funds and significant changes to the way the education service in England was controlled, managed and delivered.

The transparency of the process and its openness to public debate were “of concern to communities” across the country, the tribunal ruled. The British Humanist Association (BHA), main player in a series of Freedom of Information requests on the issue, wanting to know the religious affiliation of applicants, said the decision was “a victory for transparency and democracy”, although it was not clear on Tuesday whether Gove will appeal for a second time. The Department for Education (DfE) said: “Ministers are currently considering the ICO’s decision, and will respond in due course.” Read more.

James Meikle | The Guardian | 15th January 2013

Britain facilitating mining firms’ talks with repressive Eritrean regime

The British government has been facilitating talks between a range of mining and investment companies and the Eritrean government, whose human rights record is castigated in a Human Rights Watch report that says companies rushing to exploit Eritrea‘s rich resources risk involvement with widespread exploitation of forced labour by the regime.

Details of those who attended a roundtable meeting organised by the Foreign Office during a visit by officials from Eritrea, one of the world’s poorest and most repressive countries, were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

They included representatives from Scottish International Investment Ltd, Investec, Frontier Markets Fund Managers, Copper Tree Capital, Plaza Holdings Ltd and the shipping company Nectar Group Limited. Read more.

Ben Quinn | The Guardian | 15th January 2013

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