The Crown Prosecution Service and Met Police paid a family more than £600,000 in damages and costs after a child witness was identified to a gang. The BBC reports: “The 16-year-old boy had been promised anonymity to give evidence about a violent gang attack, but details were inadvertently passed to gang members.”The information was disclosed to the BBC after Freedom of Information request.
In a statement, the boy, his mother and her partner told BBC News they had been left with “no option” but to leave their homes, careers, families and friends “without even being able to say goodbye”.
In December 2010, the CPS revealed – following a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC about civil claims – it had made a payment of £350,000 but refused to provide further information.
The BBC appealed to the Information Commissioner and was told by the CPS in December 2011 that the claim related to a “failed request for anonymity at a trial”. No other information was given.
It was only after a further request to senior prosecution officials that the CPS agreed to provide fuller details about the case.
BBC wins its legal battle to suppress Israel Report
Lawyer Steven Sugar, who passed away last year, made a Freedom of Information request in 2005 for disclosure of the 20,000-word Balen Report, which examined the corporation’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His widow, Fiona Paveley, took up his appeal. Her lawyer, Michael Levey, said the family were ‘considering their options’ after the Supreme Court dismissed the latest appeal after ruling the report was ‘outside the scope’ of the FoI Act. The BBC argued it was exempt from revealing information it held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature’.
Tory MP Mike Freer, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, said: ‘This is the worst of all outcomes.
‘It fuels suspicion they have got something to hide.’
A spokesman for the BBC insisted it did not have anything to hide about its Middle East coverage but had pursued the case to defend its right to protect information about its journalism.
Olympic ticket ‘secrecy’ criticised
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has been able to withhold information about ticket prices and has refused to share details of sales with the public due to its status as a private company. This makes it exempt from Freedom of Information requests, the London Assembly’s economy, culture and sport committee noted.
After a two-year campaign, the committee is still demanding answers to a range of questions about the 8.8 million Olympic and two million Paralympics tickets for the public. In late 2010, London 2012 suggested that out of 8.8 million Olympic tickets, 2.5 million (28%) would cost £20 or less. It has refused to provide information to prove whether cheaper tickets were spread equally across all events, or concentrated in events such as football, where supply exceeds demand.
Committee chairman Dee Doocey said: ‘Locog’s legal status should not excuse them from the transparency and openness we expect in other areas of public life.’ ‘It is completely unacceptable that an organisation that only exists because of a huge investment of public money can hide behind its status as a private company to avoid questions it does not like,” he added.
Taxi firms get EUR1m for transfers
Two taxi companies each received more than EUR1million from the Health and Safety Executive for patient and staff transport in 2010 the Daily Mirror reports. The payments were part of a total of EUR26million paid to different cab firms. Figures released by the HSE following a FoIA request show National Radio Cabs was paid EUR1.34million and the Corkbased Sun Cabs got EUR1million in 2010. Fianna Fail Health spokesman Billy Kelleher TD said the transfer of patients for treatments “is an essential part of the HSE service”. He added: “Equally, the HSE should tighten up and ensure that is no duplication of service or unnecessary trips made.”
Despite facing budget cuts across the board, the Ministry of Defence is preparing to invest 750m pounds of taxpayer’s money for the construction of an enriched-uranium facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire.
The so-called Project Pegasus will replace an enriched-uranium facility built at the site in the 1950s.
The revelation came earlier this year, after freedom of information requests led to the publication of a 32-page MoD report that was market “Secret UK Eyes Only”. Although the report was originally heavily redacted, the Information Commissioner recently deemed the full amount of the 747m pounds investment should be made public.
The hefty investment will benefit AWE Management that has a 25-year non-revokable contract to run the base and comprises US corporations Lockheed Martin, Jacobs and UK’s Serco.
As highlighted by Observer’s Jamie Doward, other MoD investments in AWE include 500m for Project Mensa in nearby Burghfield to improve its warhead assembly facilities. But AWE’s bill, which between 2008-2011 amounts to 2.6bn pounds, includes millions for projects that have now been written off.
Like the 120m pounds spent on a cancelled plan to build a new hydrodynamics research facility at AWE Aldermaston (Project Hydrus), or a project to construct a “Systems Engineering Facility” that was cancelled and the 16m pounds invested written off.
Relatives received £6.7 million to visit inmates over the last three years
According to the Express On Sunday, £2,343,132 was handed by the Assisted Prison Visit scheme last year to family members visiting inmates. Furthermore, in a time when Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s department has to cut £2 billion out of his £9 billion annual budget, 139 jails in England and Wales had new plasma televisions installed.
Scotland’s police missing £56,000 worth of equipment
Almost £56,000 of equipment has been stolen from Scotland’s largest police force over the last five years, FoIA requests by the Press Association revealed.
Private social workers receiving more than £220,000 from HSE
The Health and Safety Executive handed out huge payouts to social workers responsible for children placed in care after courts appointed them as “guardians ad litem”. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show a top-earning social worked earned even £266,000 year.
Donald Trump asks for American-style protection of new development
Documents released after a FoIA request revealed the tycoon’s “unrealistic expectations” from Grampian Police, called to guard his £ 740 million golf resort near Aberdeen while residents opposing the plans see local authorities as Trump’s “private security”.
Health trusts squander thousands of pounds on recruitment firms
The Daily Mail reports that primary care trusts and strategic health authorities spent nearly 50 million pounds during the last three years in recruitment firms to hire managers, FoIA requests have revealed.