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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Graham’

Weekly News Round-Up: Open data, Owen Paterson and openness

Information Commissioner: ‘Open data is no substitute for freedom of information’

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has warned that the open data movement in the UK could lead to ‘open data’ becoming a substitute for ‘freedom of information’.

Speaking at the first annual Open Data Institute (ODI) summit in London, Graham said that the danger with open data is that the public only sees what the government chooses to make available – rather than the government providing data in response to specific queries.

As a result, the government could theoretically choose to publish data that casts it in a positive light, in order to detract from other data that highlights its failings.

Open data can therefore become the opposite of what it is intended to be, according to Graham, providing a very biased picture of what is actually going on in the public sector. Read more

Sophie Curtis | The Telegraph | 29th October 2013

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has yet to be briefed on climate change by chief scientist Sir Ian Boyd

The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has never been briefed on climate change by the Government’s chief scientist since taking up his Cabinet post 14 months ago, The Independent has learnt.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the man in charge of preparing Britain for the effects of climate change has received just two briefings on the subject since taking up his post. Neither of them were from Sir Ian Boyd, the Chief Scientific Adviser at Mr Paterson’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

One of the briefings, by Defra’s head of sustainable business, Jonathan Tillson, was on the morning of 27 September this year, just before the launch of the latest Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change (IPCC) and briefly covered the main points expected to be in the report. Read more

Tom Bawden | The Independent | 30th October 2013

Miliband to force openness on firms

ED MILIBAND plans to make private companies that work for the taxpayer obey public sector transparency rules. The move risks angering chief executives who fear they will have to reveal commercial secrets.

Labour’s plan would extend the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to firms and charities selling services to the state. It would require thousands of organisations to disclose information about public sector contracts.

Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said: “More and more of our public services are being delivered by private companies and charities, out of reach of freedom of information. We must demand the same openness from them as we expect from government. It’s not on to let these organisations hide behind a veil of secrecy.” Read more

Jack Grimston | The Sunday Times | 27th October 2013

Information Commissioner: FoI exemption for private companies is “perverse”

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, joined a panel of experts to discuss the ‘future of transparency’ at City University London last night. The panel discussed FoI requests, the value of openness, and what happens when the need for transparency meets obstacles such as privatisation or national security.

Joining the Information Commissioner were human rights activist Helen Darbishire, investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, barrister Robin Hopkins and director of Request Inititative, Brendan Montague. The event was chaired by  Linda Lewis, course director of City’s Political Journalism MA.

Christopher Graham made his position clear on whether FoI should apply to private companies carrying out public sector work. He said: “Private companies are increasingly taking on public functions. What seems to be so perverse is that there’s all this talk of transparency, but private companies are outside of FoI. We’ve got to find a way of FoI following the public pound. If you’ve got a socking great government contract that is to deliver a service that would have been applicable under FoI, how can you say this doesn’t apply?”

On the importance of transparency, Duncan Campbell said: “The society we live in is built on a fundamental system of checks and balances. There are competing centres of power – judiciary, executive, legislative, press – don’t trust any of them entirely. In order to make the public service function of these centres of power work, you need scrutiny and transparency. It’s the lifeblood of the multi-headed organism that is 21st century democracy.”

Discussion soon moved on to attitudes towards transparency. Brendan Montague said: “There isn’t a conspiracy of secrecy but there is a culture of secrecy in our country. Recently I was speaking to journalists in Norway who can access cabinet ministers’ emails online. Why couldn’t that be the case here?”

Robin Hopkins said that the biggest thing we could fix for FoI requests is the time frames and speed of turnaround. Brendan Montague pointed out that FoI only has power in the way it is used, and that it is the public who bring it to life. He said: “It’s only through our participation as citizens that we increase the power of FoI. It should be an offence to our mind that this information is not being published. We read about political corruption and think ‘of course’, we read that information is being kept private and think ‘of course’. We need to change that in ourselves. We need to get quite cross about this.”

Christopher Graham ended the night with a comment that one way to improve transparency would be to stop cuts to the Information Commissioner’s Office. He said: “Stop cutting the ICO budget. Over the past three years the very modest grant in aid has been cut and cut and cut.”

Dan Douglas | City Journalism | 23rd May 2013

Original article  here

See a Storify of Tweets from the panel discussion, curated by Jess Denham (Interactive Journalism MA)

 

 

 

 

Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition

Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition

Authorities at GCHQ, the government eavesdropping agency, are facing embarrassing revelations about internal correspondence in which Wikileaksfounder Julian Assange is discussed, apparently including speculation that he is being framed by Swedish authorities seeking his extradition on rape allegations.

The records were revealed by Assange himself in a Sunday night interview with Spanish television programme Salvados in which he explained that an official request for information gave him access to instant messages that remained unclassified by GCHQ.

A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: “They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate.” The messages appear to contain speculation and chatter between GCHQ employees, but Assange gave little further explanation about exactly who they came from. Read more

Giles Tremlett & Ben Quinn | The Guardian | 20th May 2013

Clegg officials ordered to hand over key emails following pressure over his role in obtaining funding for charity linked to his wife Miriam

Nick Clegg was last night facing fresh pressure over his role in obtaining funding for a charity linked to his wife Miriam after the Liberal Democrat leader’s officials were ordered to hand over key emails to Britain’s data watchdog. 

The demand by Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, means the Cabinet Office will be forced to release to him a pile of private correspondence relating to the £12 million Government grant received by Booktrust last year.

The Mail on Sunday revealed in December that the charity received the money after one of Mr Clegg’s aides lobbied for it.  This meant the grant could be given direct – rather than having to compete with other charities.  This newspaper then made a Freedom of Information request to the Government for the release of emails sent between officials relating to the deal. Read more

Glen Owen | The Daily Mail | 19th May 2013

Workfare placements must be made public, tribunal rules

The Department for Work and Pensions has lost a major court battle to keep the locations of thousands of workfare placements secret.

At the end of a freedom of information challenge that has lasted 15 months, Judge David Marks QC ruled that the DWP must publish the names of businesses and charities hosting hundreds of thousands of unemployed people who, in some cases, must undertake weeks of unpaid work as a condition of receiving benefits.

Marks, sitting with two others in the first-tier tribunal, said the DWP had offered “a paucity of compelling economic evidence” to back its claims that organisations involved would be seriously financially damaged by negative publicity campaigns should their identities become public. Read more

Shiv Malik | The Guardian | 19th May 2013

Plebgate: Mitchell supporters demand answers about Met Commissioner’s role

Friends of the former chief whip, who was forced to resign after admitting swearing at police officers in Downing Street, have established that the head of the Metropolitan Police held a meeting with journalists just prior to reports appearing in two newspapers suggesting a police investigation had found no evidence to support Mr Mitchell’s version of events.

Details of the meeting emerged after supporters of Mr Mitchell used a Freedom of Information request to ask about Sir Bernard’s meeting with reporters. Scotland Yard has confirmed that meetings with journalists took place but has not provided details about what was discussed.

Mr Mitchell stepped down last October after allegations appeared in the press that he had referred to police officers in Downing Street as ******* plebs and morons when they refused to open the main gates to allow him to cycle through. Read more

Martin Evans | The Telegraph | 19th May 2013

UK’s climate change adaptation team cut from 38 officials to just six

The number of people employed by the government to work on the UK’s response to the effects of climate change has been cut from 38 officials to just six, triggering accusations that David Cameron’s promise to be the greenest government has been abandoned. The UK is facing a multi-billion pound bill over the next few years for the costs of adapting to the effects of climate change – including flooding, much fiercer storms, droughts, heatwaves and more extreme weather.

The government’s advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, have warned that the measures needed to prepare the UK’s infrastructure will include defences for power stations, transport and communication networks, changes to how buildings are constructed, and new ways of trying to prevent flooding, such as an upgrade to the Thames Barrier.

But the number of officials charged with dealing with the issue within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been dramatically reduced. A freedom of information response to a question by Friends of the Earth confirmed the reduction from 38 to six posts. Read more

Fiona Harvey | The Guardian | 17th May 2013

Millions for wind power we can’t use

The money is paid out when turbines are spinning but the electricity they are generating is surplus to requirements. Freedom of Information documents reveal that since 2011 more than £26.5million has been paid out under the scheme.

The payments, branded “utterly bonkers” by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris, will enrage consumers facing an effective £100 surcharge on their bills for green energy.

The National Grid makes the payments if wind power is ­surplus to requirements or cannot be fed to places that need it because of system bottlenecks. Read more

Richard Creasy | The Express | 19th May 2013

300 police officers gagged at cost of up to £250,000 each

The Government has banned gagging orders for NHS employees after it emerged that £18million has been spent on silencing 600 staff. However, a survey using Freedom of Information laws has found that the orders are also widely used across police forces, leading to concerns that whistleblowers are being silenced.

Stephen Barclay, a Conservative member of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “It is very concerning to hear that police officers with issues of concern which are in public interest appear to have been silenced through gagging clauses.

“These agreements have a clear effect beyond those who sign them because other officers with ambition will see what has happened to those who have concerns and decide to stay silent.” Read more

Steven Swinford | The Telegraph | 17th May 2013

£6m cost of Olympic Torch relay

England’s largest local councils spent more than £6 million hosting the Olympic Torch for last year’s Games, figures published on the one-year anniversary of the start of the relay show. On average, authorities paid out just over £40,000 to host the flame, funding items such as security and street furniture, as well as road-closure notices and evening celebrations.

The biggest spends were in the London boroughs of Bexley and Waltham Forest, who both forked out in excess of £279,000, while more than a dozen other authorities recorded six-figure sums to host the Torch.

Those councils who enjoyed multiple visits from the iconic flame and its formidable entourage often reported larger spends than those whose glimpse of the parade was fleeting, while larger authorities with huge populations understandably spent more than their smaller counterparts. Read more

The Belfast Telegraph | 19th May 2013

University buys a £1.4m Picasso. What’s wrong with this picture?

The first I heard of Durham University’s sensational decision to splash out millions on a Picasso painting among other new art was when I received this text from my son, who is a student there: “Durham Uni spent £1.4m on art for one of the centres. … Now we know where my £9,000 is going.” A few seconds later came another text: “Why do we need it?”

It’s the right question to ask and so far Durham’s elders have failed to put up a convincing answer, leaving many students wondering if the university is getting too big for its boots in its drive to compete with Oxbridge, even over its art collections. What’s interesting about the cynicism of my son – and he says his friends feel the same – is how the punitive cost of soaring tuition fees is turning today’s students into bolshie consumers rather than bolshie CND marchers.

How times have changed – twenty years ago no student would have given a toss about what their university was spending on art – or their wine cellars for that matter. So in that sense it’s rather heartening to hear that students are still capable of being goaded into action as the cost of the art only came out into the open after Durham’s student union put in for a Freedom of Information request; one that was originally refused. Read more

Margareta Pagano | The Independent | 19th May 2013

Police take DNA of 27 primary children a week: Nearly 54,000 under 18s were swabbed for database during 2012

Police collect a DNA sample from a child every ten minutes, it emerged last night. Officers took nearly 54,000 swabs of genetic material from under 18s last year.

On average, 27 primary school children had their DNA taken by the police every week to put on the national database. The figures were uncovered by anti-prison campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform using the Freedom of Information Act.

Frances Crook, the league’s chief executive, said most children were ‘just up to mischief’ and it was wrong to treat them like hardened criminals. Read more

Jack Doyle | The Daily Mail | 20th May 2013

£500m bill for appeal battles over benefits

More than 1.2 million cases involving claims for disability and unemployment allowances have been taken to the special tribunals since April 2010, latest Ministry of Justice data reveals.

With each case costing an average £377 to process, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the bill has been £475million.

Rising unemployment, a large backlog and confusion over welfare reforms and controversial work capability assessments mean that the figure is forecast to hit nearly £1billion by the end of this Parliament in 2015. The numbers were compiled by researchers at ilegal, the internet  forum for law specialists. Read more

Ted Jeory | The Express | 19th May 2013

Royal Regiment of Scotland top military league of shame by failing more drug tests than any other

THE Royal Regiment of Scotland have topped a military league of shame which shows they had most positive drugs tests out of the whole British Army. There were 62 positive drugs tests on soldiers from the regiment in 2012, according to newly obtained Ministry of Defence figures.

The military personnel from the regiment – whose motto is Nemo Me Impune Lacessit or no one provokes me with impunity – tested positive for illegal substances including cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.

The figures – which were revealed in a Freedom of Information request – show that a total of 140,563 tests were carried out on Army, RAF and Royal Navy personnel – with 575 testing positive for Class A, B and C drugs. Read more

Lynn McPherson | The Daily Record | 19th May 2013

Suffolk: Ride and run crimes are under-reported by taxi drivers

Hundreds of people have hired a taxi and made off without paying after being driven to their destination, figures have revealed. Between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012, a total of 270 ‘ride and run’ incidents were reported in Suffolk, according to a Freedom of Information request.

And now taxi drivers are calling for a crackdown on the problem because they say the true figure will be much higher as many incidents are not reported. John Lloyd, manager of Hawk Express Cabs based in Ipswich, said the issue has become an increasing problem.

“Sometimes the driver reports it to police and they are encouraged to do so,” he added. “The police do their best. They take the passenger’s address and contact details and try to persuade them to pay with 24 hours and if not, it will be made a criminal offence. Read more

Lauren Everitt | East Anglian Daily Times | 17th May 2013

USA: IRS accused of hiding existence of Tea Party targeting documents

The Internal Revenue Service denied the existence of any documents related to its policy of targeting Tea Party organizations in response to a 2010 Freedom of Information Act request, even though such documents were later discovered by the IRS inspector general.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a conservative nonprofit group, filed a FOIA request in 2010 through investigative journalist Lynn K. Walsh seeking all IRS documents related to the agencies tax-exempt division specifically mentioning the Tea Party.

IRS headquarters responded in 2011 that it “found no documents specifically responsive to your request.” However, the May 14 inspector general report found that the “first Sensitive Case Report [identifying Tea Party groups] was prepared by the Technical Unit” in April of 2010. Read more

CJ Ciaramella | The Washington Free Beacon | 17th May 2013

FOI’s warn of risk to UK gas shipments

FOI’s warn of risk to UK gas shipments

New documents obtained by a Greenpeace/Energydesk FOI request have revealed government concerns about the security of gas supplies to the UK.

The news comes as the boss of energy regulator Ofgem warned that gas supplies would be limited over the next decade and prices would rise.

The documents detail discussions between UK and Qatari government officials over security concerns, some of them taking place aboard a UK warship, HMS Duke, in 2011. Concerns raised include:

With 96 tankers moving around the world 24/7 LNG presented a ‘major energy security issue’.

They had been ‘lucky’ so far due to tanker speed but measures now being implemented included ‘citadels’ on tankers and the use of barbed wire.

There was discussion of ‘on board security teams’ with the concern raised that this may lead to an ‘arms race on the high seas’. Read more.

Damien Kahya & Lawrence Carter | Greenpeace | 19th February 2013

Michael Gove in clash over free schools freedom of information requests.

The information commissioner, Christopher Graham, and Michael Gove have clashed over the public’s right to know the names, places and religious affiliation, if any, of all the groups who have applied to join the government’s controversial free schools programme.

The education secretary appeared to suggest that Graham was effectively helping opponents of the taxpayer-funded schools, which are independent of local authorities, to intimidate applicants – prompting Graham to retort that the arguments of Gove’s department in resisting public disclosure “clearly failed to convince”.

The steely exchange came as Gove reluctantly released details of 517 applications made for the first three waves of free schools after losing a tribunal ruling last month. Announcing he would no longer challenge the commissioner’s decision, Gove claimed parents and teachers trying to join the government’s programme had been vilified by opponents and even lost their jobs, even without full details of applications. Read more.

James Meikle | The Guardian | 20th February 2013

Two-job bobbies: Police force reveals 223 officers are moonlighting including as magicians and DJs

Police officers moonlighting as magicians, models and ski instructors have been rapped by their commissioner who told them they “don’t stop being police” when off-duty.

A freedom of information request found more than one in 10 officers in the force had second jobs, which also included voiceover work and selling honey.

Staffordshire Police admitted that 223 of its 1,900 officers did other work when not pounding the beat.

And although it is not illegal, local elected police commissioner Matthew Ellis has expressed concern that their additional roles might interfere with the police work they do.

Tory Mr Ellis said: “Officers serve their community. I would be concerned about anything that puts that at risk. Read more.

Luke Traynor | The Mirror | 21st February 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska climate body hasn’t met since 2011, documents show

Alaska climate body hasn’t met since 2011, documents show

Rapid-response taskforce – set up by Sarah Palin to protect state from effects of global warming – last met in March 2011
A rapid-response taskforce, intended to protect Alaska from the worst effects of climate change, has failed to meet for two years, according to newly released documents.

The Immediate Action Work Group, which reports directly to Alaska’s governor, Sean Parnell, was charged with developing immediate response plans to future climate disasters.

However, the rapid-response team has not met since March 2011 and its supervisory body, the Sub-Cabinet on Climate Change, has gone even longer without meeting.

The sub-cabinet held its last meeting in February 2010, said Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which obtained the documents under freedom of information laws. Read more.

Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian | 5th February 2013

Information commissioner: Compulsory data protection audits needed

Compulsory data protection audits of councils and the NHS are needed to help eliminate “really stupid basic errors”, the Information Commissioner has said.

Christopher Graham told MPs taxpayers were losing out when public bodies were fined for mistakes in handling sensitive information.

He said “consensual” voluntary audits in some areas had proved a success.

But he said the Department for Communities and Local Government was “surprisingly opposed” to the proposal.

The watchdog currently only has the power to launch compulsory audits across central government. For all other organisations it has to secure consent before an audit can take place. Read more.

BBC | 5th February 2013

Army of snitches: HMRC hands out more than £1m to Britons who shopped tax dodgers during financial crisis

Army of snitches: HMRC hands out more than £1m to Britons who shopped tax dodgers during financial crisis

Super-snitches have pocketed more than £1 million for helping catch tax-dodgers since the banking crisis began in 2008, it was revealed today.  Huge taxpayer-funded ‘bounty payments’ of up to £100,000 have been handed out by HM Revenue & Customs to try to clamp down on evasion.

Cash rewards given to members of the public rose by more than a fifth in the last year, probably because more people were trying to avoid the 50p rate of income tax, experts say.

And the Government says that disgruntled spouses, family members, neighbours or colleagues are among the people who successfully snitched.

Read more

Martin Robinson | Daily Mail | 31st of July

Exclusive Report: Shocking statistics of crime among the under 12s

ITV Westcountry News can reveal the number of very young people in our region becoming involved in crime. Using the Freedom of Information Act we’ve collated figures from police forces across the South West that show how many children aged 12 or under have been arrested and later charged with commiting an offence over the past two years.

Since 2010 746 children in the region aged 12 or under have been arrested and 156 of them were later charged. Some of the crimes were serious, ranging from rape, GBH, indecent assault, arson and possession of a firearm.

Read more

Claire Manning | ITV news | 31st of July

Ministers veto Iraq minutes release

The government has used a ministerial veto to prevent the publication of the minutes from Cabinet meetings held just before the war in Iraq.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham released a decision notice asking the government to publish the minutes due to the “significant public interest” involved. He has said he is “disappointed” the government has chosen to continue Labour’s secrecy over the lead up to the military action in 2003.

“His view is that the significant public interest in this matter justified an exception to the general rule that such information should not be disclosed before the usual due date for the release of Cabinet material,” an ICO spokesperson said.

Read more

Georgie Keat | politics.co.uk | 31st of July

Is George Osborne’s energy stance influenced by Lord Howell, Greenpeace asks

Is George Osborne’s energy stance influenced by Lord Howell, Greenpeace asks

Greenpeace has submitted Freedom of Information Act questions in a bid to discover how many times Lord Howell has met the Chancellor and discussed energy questions. Lord Howell is the father of George Osborne’s wife, Frances.

Lord Howell is a foreign office minister with responsibility for international energy issues in the Lords, but it is his role as president of the British Institute of Energy Economics that is exercising Greenpeace.

The Institute has Shell, BP and BG Group as corporate members, while the Energy Department is one of its eight sponsors.

Read more.

Roland Gribben | The Telegraph | July 30th 2012

Ten per cent of East Lancashire police have second income

ALMOST 10 per cent of serving police officers in East Lancashire have a second income.

At least 81 officers in Eastern and Pennine divisions of Lancashire Constabulary have a second business interest.

In Eastern division, which covers Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, 37 officers have declared a second income to bosses.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Lancashire Telegraph shows more than 300 officers in Lancashire have two incomes. The highest ranking officers to register a second income are three Chief Superintendents.

Read more.

Vanessa Carnall | Lancashire Telegraph | July 30th 2012

ICO power to stop FOI dodgers ‘some way off’

Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, has said that implementation of the justice committee’s recommendation for his office to have more time to prosecute people who destroy data requested under freedom of information (FOI) is “still some way off”.

Although it is an offence to destroy information so as to avoid responding to an FOI request, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) currently has only six months in which to prosecute an individual.

Under current law, the six months runs from when the offence was committed, not from when the ICO receives a complaint.

Read more.

The Register | July 30th 2012

Bolton’s plague of rats

BOLTON has one of the worst records for rat problems in the country.

The council was called out to almost 5,000 pest problems last year.

And figures obtained by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) under the Freedom Of Information Act put Bolton 10th worst for the number of rat problems tackled out of 314 English local authorities between April 2010 and April, 2011.

Read more.

The Bolton News | July 30th 2012

Welsh councils spent £1m in a year to publish their own newspapers

WELSH councils spent £1m a year on publishing their own newspapers, it emerged yesterday.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed at least 15 councils used taxpayers’ cash last year to produce and deliver their own newspaper.

Cardiff Council spent £331,000 in 2011-2012 on 13 editions of its taxpayer-funded “Capital Times”.

Read more.

Tom Bodden | Wales Online | July 31st 2012

Drop in school sport support blamed on funding cuts

Drop in school sport support blamed on funding cuts

On the eve of an Olympic Games that has promised to “inspire a generation of young people through sport”, research has indicated a 60% drop in the amount of time dedicated to organising school sport nationwide in the wake of government cuts.

The research, compiled by Labour through Freedom of Information requests to 150 top tier local authorities, shows there are now 110 fewer School Sport Partnerships – local networks of organised school sport – than there were before the cuts in 2009/10, a decline of 37%.

Almost half of local authorities (48%) recorded a decrease in the number of School Sport Partnerships, while 28% no longer have any

Read more.

Owen Gobson | The Guardian | July 18th 2012

Information commissioner welcomes ‘step change’ in transparency

Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, heralds the coalition’s open data white paper as “a step change” in commitment to transparency in government and public services.

Among the aims outlined in the paper are easier access to public data, more standardised formatting and embedding a ‘presumption to publish’ most data. In Graham’s view, the document represents an extension of the progress made over a number of years with freedom of information.

“We don’t see open data as a replacement for freedom of information,” he explains. “You still need to have access to other information under freedom of information, email and reports and so on. There are two things together – data sets and the more traditional record – which lead to true openness. But on the whole, a big tick.”

Read more.

Gill Hitchcock | The Guardian | July 18th 2012

Libor emails ‘show Bank of England’s efforts to get banks to lower rate’

Libor emails ‘show Bank of England’s efforts to get banks to lower rate’

John Mann, an MP on the Treasury Committee, has released emails showing the Bank of England had concerns about the level of Libor at Barclays, HSBC and RBS in 2008.

The release of the emails, first seen by ITV News, came minutes before Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, and his deputy, Paul Tucker, faced MPs investigating the Libor scandal that has engulfed Barclays.

John Mann was reported as calling the emails, obtained by through a freedom of information request, “explosive” and showed the central bank in 2008 encouraging the three bank to lower Libor.

Read more.

The Telegraph | July 17th 2012

David Cameron criticised for attacks on Freedom of Information Act

Information commissioner says remarks criticising act may be encouraging ‘bad behaviour’ among civil servants

The information commissioner has accused David Cameron and other members of the political establishment of launching a damaging attack on the Freedom of Information Act which he says is encouraging civil servants to obscure the government from proper scrutiny.

Christopher Graham said public condemnation of the law from the prime minister, Tony Blair and the former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell was “driving bad behaviour” and possible illegal activity in Whitehall. He said the coalition may have abandoned its promise to be the most transparent ever because of the pressures of power.

Read more.

Rajeev Syal | The Guardian | July 16th 2012

U.S. Treasury staffer solicited hookers        

A freedom of information request revealed several incidents of major ethical breaches at the Department of Treasury, involving the solicitation of prostitutes using government resources as well conflict of interest concerns.

This is the latest in a string of embarrassments and scandals for the Obama administration; the staffers involved have not been prosecuted because they didn’t include “underage prostitutes or human trafficking.”

Read more.

Anne Sorock | Legal Insurection  | July 17th 2012

State funded elderly care declining, Labour figures suggest

State funded elderly care declining, Labour figures suggest.

The number of elderly people in England getting council-funded care has fallen by 11% in the last two years, figures obtained by Labour suggest.

Freedom of Information responses from 121 councils showed they provided free care to 59,056 over 65s in 2011-12, down from 66,342 in 2009-10.

The drop comes despite the rise in over-65s due to the ageing population.

Read more.

Nick Tiggle | BBC | 16th May 2012

Ministers face grilling over plans to downgrade law which helped reveal MPs expenses scandal

Ministers face a grilling from MPs today over claims they are planning to downgrade Freedom of Information laws.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and justice minister Lord McNally are due to appear before the Justice Select Committee.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham lashed out yesterday over the Government’s decision to veto publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms, despite a tribunal ruling that it should be released.

Read more.

London Evening Standard | 16th May 2012

B&B action group in Treasury ‘subterfuge’ claim

Cabinet Office and Treasury refuse to supply documents under Freedom of Information Act.

Shareholders in Bradford & Bingley have been denied documents from several UK government departments on multiple occasions under the Freedom of Information Act, David Blundell has said.

Mr Blundell, chairman of the Bradford & Bingley Action Group which is spearheading fair compensation for roughly 1m shareholders affected by the demise of the UK bank and building society, said officials at the Treasury and the Cabinet Office have declined to provide documents requested because of the costs or that the information was not available.

He said: “Relevant government departments and regulatory bodies have ignored prime minister David Cameron over granting documents under the Act.”

Read more.

Roger Aitken | Financial Adviser | 16th May 2012

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