NHS reform risk report veto is sign of freedom of information downgrade, says watchdog
Blocking the publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms is a sign that ministers want to downgrade freedom of information laws, a watchdog has warned.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham launched a scathing criticism of the decision to exercise the Government’s veto in a report on the case to Parliament.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley deployed it to block an Information Tribunal ruling that he should meet Labour demands to disclose the document.
Joe Churcher | The Independent | 15th May 2012
Private firms face FoI for government contracts
The Commons public accounts committee says companies doing business with central government should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and should have their performance and contracts examined by the government’s spending watchdogs.
In its report on the Work Programme on Tuesday, the committee recommended that the Cabinet Office Efficiency Reform Group (ERG) should extend its work to ensure that taxpayers get better value from companies that depend on central government deals for most of their income.
Jane Duhman | The Guardian | 15th MAy 2012
Anonymous takes down ICO web site
Hacktivist collective Anonymous has taken down the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) web site.
The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is thought to be directed by a group on Twitter calling itself the “Anon Ateam” in protest against what it believes is corruption within the Leveson inquiry.
A spokesperson for the ICO, a pubic body that deals with independent advice and guidance about data protection and freedom of information, confirmed that access to the web site had been “disrupted over the past few days”.
Lee Bell | The Inquirer | 15th May 2012
Civil servants caught looking at private files in personal data breaches
Almost 1,000 DWP staff were disciplined in a 10-month period for unlawfully or inappropriately accessing social security records, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information laws.
Meanwhile, over the past year there were at least 13 cases per month of unlawful access to medical records reported to the Department of Health (DoH).
Andrew Hough | The Telegraph | 14th May 2012
Flight Lieutenant Joseph Pasquini has found huge discrepancies between the data he collected following the UK’s biggest nuclear test blast at Christmas Island in the Pacific on 28 April, 1958 and those those issued by the MoD and the Atomic Weapons Results Establishment, the Independent reports.
Pasquini said: “I made several Freedom of Information requests and looked at the readings officially given and they were utterly false. My records for the MoD and AWRE are inaccurate. I didn’t say anything for 50 years because I was sworn to secrecy by the Official Secrets Act, and not even my wife knew what I knew. But people need to know the truth about what happened.”
Freedom of Information legislation abused to intimidate researchers
Freedom of information laws are being used as tools of intimidation against scientists and university researchers, forcing them to reveal unpublished manuscripts, according to an article in the Independent. Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, criticised the way scientists involved in contentious research such as tobacco use and climate change are pressured to disclose part of their work.
Last September, the Independent reported that Stirling University was fighting an FoIA request by tobacco giant Philip Morris International, which sought access to thousands of confidential interviews with British teenagers as part of the university’s investigation.
Health Secretary ordered to release NHS reforms Strategic Risk documents
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has been told by the Information Commissioner to disclose the Strategic Risk Register for the NHS reforms under the FoIA after a 12-month battle. The Daily Mirror reports the request was logged by Labour’s former Shadow Health Secretary John Healey.
Local councils cash in millions of pounds from parking services
A FoIA request filed by the Co-operative Motor Group has revealed a steep rise in the amount of money local councils make from parking services. As The Telegraph reports, local authorities have received an extra £184 million from parking charges in the years 2008 to 2010, compared to 2007.
UK Schools don’t know where their food comes from
Only 30 per cent of local education authorities know the country of origin of school food, a FoIA request by the Countryside Alliance Foundation has revealed according to the Telegraph.
Sure Start Centres funding slashed all across UK
The Sunday Mirror’s FoIA investigation into English local councils’ spending on Sure Start Centres showed that 90 per cent will reduce their funding next year. Sure Start Centres were set up by Labour in 1998 with a pledge to tackle child poverty, give children the best possible start in life and provide a lifeline to young mums as a place to meet other parents.