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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Blair’

Email links Lockerbie bomber’s prison transfer to £400m Libyan arms deal

Email links Lockerbie bomber’s prison transfer to £400m Libyan arms deal

An email has emerged suggesting a connection between the prisoner transfer deal negotiated between Libya and the last Labour government, that could have allowed the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and a £400m arms deal.

The document, which shows that Sir Vincent Fean, the then British ambassador to Libya, wrote to Tony Blair in June 2008 saying that the prisoner transfer agreement was “ready for signature in London” as soon as Libya went ahead with the purchase of an air defence system, was obtained by the Sunday Telegraph.

The release of Megrahi, who eventually died in May 2012, provoked outrage in the US and elsewhere. At the time ministers rejected claims that the decision to allow him to return home was influenced by commercial concerns, but the new email, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, suggests the Foreign Office was trying to link the two issues. Read more

Andrew Sparrow | The Guardian | 28th July 2013

Exclusive: Commons to review its extensive use of zero-hours contracts

More than 150 staff at the House of Commons are employed on controversial zero hours contracts, despite growing calls by MPs for tougher rules to prevent workers being exploited by them.

A freedom of information request revealed that 155 Commons employees are on standby without a guaranteed minimum number of hours, including catering workers, computer staff and visitor assistants. Labour MPs are now calling for the contracts to be scrapped and Commons managers are to review their use. Read more

Andrew Grice | The Independent | 28th July 2013



Cameron, Blair and their ‘grubby deal to censor Iraq inquiry’

Cameron, Blair and their ‘grubby deal to censor Iraq inquiry’: Key evidence has been held back in return for ex-PM’s neutrality at election, claims former foreign secretary

David Owen has accused Tony Blair and David Cameron of striking a secret deal to prevent the Chilcot Inquiry publishing key documents about the Iraq war. The former Foreign Secretary said extracts of letters between Mr Blair and President George W Bush have been held back to save the ex-Prime Minister’s reputation.

It is believed the documents may shed light on the allegation that Mr Blair had already agreed to go to war up to a year before the 2003 invasion. In a speech, Lord Owen made the  astonishing claim that Mr Cameron had backed Mr Blair’s decision to block the publication of the letters in return for his ‘neutrality or tacit support’ at the next general election.

The peer also pointed the finger of blame at Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, accusing him too of blocking the publication of the documents.  The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq conflict was set up four years ago but has yet to report. Read more

Tim Shipman | The Daily Mail | 31st May 2013

The homeless aren’t ‘negative impacts’ – they are living victims of policy

Homelessness is not a problem. Homelessness is many problems woven together into a human calamity and a social catastrophe: lack of housing; lack of jobs; lack of money; lack of social support; lack of mental health care; but above all, lack of compassion where it matters.

The past week has vividly illustrated the complexities of the issues. Already the eviction notices have begun to arrive for arrears on the new “bedroom tax”, as prompt as they were predictable. Freedom-of-information requests to 107 local authorities have revealed that 86,000 households in council or housing association properties have been forced to look for one-bedroom homes, of which only 33,000 have become available in the past year.

Charities are reporting vast increases in requests for help and their caseloads as squeezed incomes and benefits combined with rising living costs lead to increased debt and arrears. Caps to housing benefits arrive nationally in September to exacerbate the crisis. Read more

Ally Fogg | The Guardian | 30th May 2013

HSBC money-laundering investigation letters spark questions over rushed fine

After a decade of investigations, US authorities last September decided to move “as quickly as possible” to fine HSBC on money laundering charges that the Treasury Department concluded were the most “egregious” it had ever seen, according to newly released documents.

A series of emails and letters released to Public Citizen, a Washington-based advocacy group, paint a partial picture of the Treasury Department trying to catch up after a hard-hitting Senate report had blasted the British bank and a New York regulator had threatened to revoke the license ofanother British institution, Standard Chartered.

Bart Naylor, a policy advocate at Public Citizen, said the documents posed questions about why the Treasury Department wanted a quick resolution to the HSBC scandal. “Why all of a sudden do they want a resolution after 10 years of investigation? Was Treasury pre-empting more vigorous action by the Justice Department? These are questions that need to be answered,” he said. Read more

Dominic Rushe | The Guardian | 30th May 2013

Humaneness of badger cull to be judged on noise of dying animals

The noises made by shot badgers and comparisons with harpooned whales will be among the measures used to assess the humaneness of badger cullsin England, a government document seen by the Guardian reveals.

The paper also acknowledges that none of the shooters will have experience of killing free-running badgers and that the requirement to target the heart and lungs is untested. Anti-cull campaigners have reacted furiously to the heavily redacted document, which is marked “protect”.

“With such large-scale killing in our countryside, it is simply unacceptable that the government is continuing to be so evasive about how suffering will be measured during the pilot culls,” said Mark Jones, executive director of the Humane Society International UK, which obtained the document through the Freedom of Information Act. Read more

Damian Carrington | The Guardian | 30th May 2013

The FCA’s astonishing lack of MI on whistleblowing

It’s not unusual to get freedom of information requests knocked back by the regulator under FoI cost of compliance rules. Public and regulatory bodies are able to reject FoI’s that would cost over £450 (18 hours work at £25 per hour) and communications staff are often quick to pounce on anything but the most tightly written FoI to try and escalate the potential costs above the limit.

However, we were very surprised to have a recent pretty simple FoI request made by our regulation reporter Natalie Holt rejected by the Financial Conduct Authority on this basis. She asked for the number of whistleblowing reports made to the FSA in both the 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years and also the number of whistleblowing reports in 2012/13 that resulted in enforcement action.

The request was made after FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley made a big deal about the use of whistleblowing at a Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards hearing earlier this year. He went as far as floating the idea of offering large cash incentives to encourage more people to report foul play to the regulator. Read more

Paul McMillan | Money Marketing | 30th May 2013

Michael Gove under fire for Department of Education’s stonewalling of Parliament in response to MPs’ questions

Michael Gove under fire for Department of Education’s stonewalling of Parliament in response to MPs’ questions

Michael Gove has been formally asked to explain his department’s “exceptionally poor performance” in stonewalling questions from MPs, amid renewed accusations of a lack of accountability at the heart of the Government’s Education team.

The chairman of the House of Commons’ Procedures Committee, Charles Walker, said he was “well aware of the exceptionally poor performance” of Mr Gove’s team in providing answers to parliamentary questions, and remained “unconvinced” that they were making sufficient efforts in tackling the problem, which has led to increasing claims of a diminished accountability.

With the Information Commissioner’s Office not ruling out legal action to force the Department for Education to improve its record in answering Freedom of Information requests, a senior Whitehall official close to David Cameron told The Independent that Mr Gove’s department was in danger of “resembling an information black hole”. Read more

James Cusick | The Independent | 28th April 2013

Blair makes a fortune on lecture tours… and you pay for his stay: Outcry as former PM stays on taxpayer-fueled residences

With millions in the bank, you would think Tony Blair could comfortably pay his hotel bills.  But it has emerged the taxpayer has effectively been subsidising at least some of the former prime minister’s profit-making lecture tours since he left office.

Mr Blair is taking advantage of free accommodation in luxury taxpayer-funded residences on his frequent trips overseas.  On a visit to the Philippines, where he was reportedly paid £200,000 a time for two half-hour lectures, he and his entourage were put up free of charge at the UK ambassador’s official residence.

They were able to enjoy a swimming pool, garden and tennis court at the residence, a Freedom of Information request revealed. Similarly secure accommodation in a private hotel would have personally cost thousands of pounds. Asked about such largesse being offered on a money-making trip, the Foreign Office last night suggested such freebies were routinely available to him. Read more

Neil Sears | The Daily Mail | 29th April 2013

Google reports record spike in government requests to remove content

Governments made a record number of requests for Google to remove political content in the last half of 2012, the search giant said on Thursday.

The number of official requests for content to be removed jumped 26% in the final six months of 2012 compared to the start of the year, according to the latest Google Transparency Report. Google received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content – an increase from 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that the company received during the first half of 2012.

Requests were made to pull videos from YouTube, delete blog posts on Google’s Blogger service and to remove items from Google search, making them harder to find. Read more

Dominic Rushe | The Guardian | 25th April 2013

Male drivers fail to see the point

Over 8000 UK drivers are still driving despite having 12 or more points on their licence. The top fourteen licence point holders with 25 points or more are all men.

The official upper limit for license points according to DVLA is 12, or six for those who have held a licence for three years or less. However, a freedom of information request to the DVLA showed many male drivers with 25-36 points were still driving.

A male driver from Warrington has the highest number of points, 36. Currently, there are 20,439,578 male and 16,804,524 female licence holders in the UK, but it’s men who fall foul of the law more often. Read more

Fenland Citizen | 28th April 2013

Insecticide firms in secret bid to stop ban that could save bees

Europe is on the brink of a landmark ban on the world’s most widely used insecticides, which have increasingly been linked to serious declines in bee numbers. Despite intense secret lobbying by British ministers and chemical companies against the ban, revealed in documents obtained by the Observer, a vote in Brussels on Monday is expected to lead to the suspension of the nerve agents.

Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, loss of habitat and, increasingly, the near ubiquitous use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

The prospect of a ban has prompted a fierce behind-the-scenes campaign. In a letter released to the Observer under freedom of information rules, the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told the chemicals company Syngenta last week that he was “extremely disappointed” by the European commission’s proposed ban. Read more

Damian Carrington | The Observer | 28th April 2013

SSPO condemns freedom of information decision on seal killings

The Scottish Information Commissioner has found in favour of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) in its appeal against Scottish Ministers following a freedom of information request to reveal information about seals killed under seal killing licences issued by the Ministers, including to which companies licences had been issued and how many seals were actually killed.

Following an investigation, the Commissioner found that the Ministers, while revealing some information, had wrongly withheld information on seal killings and required it to be disclosed.

While the Commissioner did not accept that the retrospective nature of the information would prevent its use by protestors, who might protest about the shooting having taken place, once details were released, she said she was not satisfied that the Ministers had demonstrated that disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially public safety. Read more

Fish Update | 26th April 2013

More than £100K top of the range mobiles and tablets given to council staff

MORE than £100,000 worth of iPads, iPhones and Blackberrys have been given to council staff – despite huge cuts to services in Coventry. Data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act shows top-of-the-range mobile phone and tablet devices worth £113,000 were handed out for the first time last year.

Coventry City Council insists they were purchased at an initial “subsidised price” but admits to shelling out £15,754 on 95 iPads for senior officers and councillors.

It comes when the city council is losing a THIRD of its government funding. Over the next three years, £60million more cuts are expected as well as at least 800 more job losses. Read more

Martin Bagot | Coventry Telegraph | 27th April 2013

USA: Consultants’ role in NY drilling study questioned

Government watchdog Common Cause and 11 environmental groups raised more questions Thursday about the role of gas industry-associated consultants in the state’s environmental impact study of shale gas drilling and fracking.

A review of Department of Environmental Conservation documents obtained by Common Cause through Freedom of Information Law requests shows two more firms with memberships in the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York were contracted for the state’s review.

The review, still incomplete after five years, is to determine whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves blasting chemical-laden water deep into the ground, will be allowed in the state. Read more

Associated Press | 25th April 2013

CANADA: Liberals want ethics investigation of construction group’s lobbying

The Alberta Liberals sent letters to the province’s ethics and elections watchdogs Friday calling for investigations into lobbying by a coalition of construction interests that also made campaign donations to the Progressive Conservatives.

In the letters to Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson and acting Chief Electoral Officer Lorie McKee-Jeske, Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said documents released through a Freedom of Information request to the Alberta Federation of Labour raise questions about the connection between political donations and attempts to influence legislation.

The documents, which include a series of emails after the April 2012 election, include a chain of messages from a construction company executive pushing for a meeting with Premier Alison Redford to discuss labour code changes being advocated by the Construction Competitiveness Coalition. Read more

Sarah O’Donnell | Edmonton Journal | 26th April 2013

SOUTH AFRICA: South African activists vow to fight on after MPs pass ‘secrecy bill’

Campaigners in South Africa have vowed “this fight is not over” after MPs passed widely condemned secrecy laws that could threaten whistleblowers and journalists with jail terms of up to 25 years.

The protection of state information bill, dubbed the “secrecy bill” by its opponents, was passed by 189 votes to 74, with one abstension, in a parliament dominated by the African National Congress (ANC). It is now a formality for President Jacob Zuma to sign it into law.

Freedom of speech activists acknowledge that the bill has been greatly improved and amended during five years of fierce national debate. But they warn that it still contains ambiguities and harsh penalties that could have a “chilling effect” on those seeking to expose official corruption. They intend to challenge the legislation in the highest court in the land. Read more

David Smith | The Guardian | 25th April 2013

CHINA: Hollande asked to raise freedom information during official visit to China

Reporters Without Borders urges French President Francois Hollande to raise human rights and freedom of information with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, during a two-day official visit to China that began yesterday.

Hollande’s visit is the first by a foreign head of state since Xi was installed as China’s president on 14 March.

“While it is clear from the size of the accompanying delegation of French businessmen that trade will be the leading subject of their talks, it is essential that Hollande should keep his promise – announced by government spokesman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – to raise human rights with Xi, and this should include freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. Read more

Reporters Without Borders | 26th April 2013

AUSTRALIA: Hackers target Bureau of Statistics data

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed that hackers have recently attempted to break through its security systems to get hold of potentially market sensitive information.

While the ABS says none of the attempted attacks were successful, there are growing concerns that intelligence about Australia’s economy is being eyed by either governments or individuals abroad.

News of the hacking attempts comes from a Freedom of Information request by the Australian Financial Review and, according to that, the ABS has been targeted by hackers over the past four years, including at least 11 incidents over seven months in 2012. Read more

Peter Ryan | ABC News | 26th April 2013

USA: US judge says US combat school must disclose names of foreign leaders it trains

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Department of Defence must disclose the names of individuals who studied and taught during the past eight years at a Georgia school that trains foreign military and police officers, a federal judge in California has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland rejected the federal government’s argument that identifying trainees and teachers at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation would violate their privacy and potentially compromise their safety, saying such concerns were outweighed by “the strong public interest in access to this information.”

Hamilton’s ruling, issued Monday, came in a lawsuit brought by two San Francisco members of SOA Watch, a group that has protested for more than two decades outside the training school based at Fort Benning and worked to implicate its graduates in human rights abuses in El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala and other Latin American countries. Read more

Associated Press | 24th April 2013

USA: Lawmaker seeks to limit FOIA release of 911 calls

LANSING — Prompted by a high-profile case of an attack on a suburban Detroit family, a Michigan lawmaker has introduced a bill aimed at limiting the release of 911 recordings requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Republican Rep. Kurt Heise of Plymouth said he wants to strike a balance between the public’s right to the information and the need for sensitivity, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The bill was prompted by a 2012 attack on the Cipriano family in Farmington Hills, Heise said. Tucker Cipriano is accused of beating his father to death with a baseball bat and trying to kill his mother and brother. Read more

Associated Press | 25th April 2013


FOIA: “The pursuit of transparency is leading to dishonesty and intrigue”

Freedom of Information Act: The pursuit of transparency is leading to dishonesty and intrigue

‘You idiot. You naïve, foolish, irresponsible, nincompoop.” That is Tony Blair’s description of Tony Blair, on page 516 of his memoirs. Last month, the former home secretary, Jack Straw, published his memoirs, Last Man Standing. He, too, indulges in severe self-criticism. Mr Straw describes an Act which he (reluctantly) introduced as “showing the signs of its wholly inadequate conception and implementation”.

Both men are protesting against the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) which they brought in. They say that it is (Mr Blair’s words) “utterly undermining of sensible government”. Under FoI, a case was brought by The Guardian to force the disclosure of the Prince of Wales’s correspondence with ministers. This week, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, exercised his right to prevent publication. FoI groupies are outraged. The Guardian says it will seek judicial review. Read more.

Charles Moore | The Telegraph | 19th October 2012

Ben Wallace MP: politicians will suffer while Commons secrecy continues

Ever since being elected in 2005 I have campaigned for transparency and the reform of expenses. In 2007 I won the Spectator magazine’s award for campaigner of the year for my stance on the subject. Recently I raised no objection to the Freedom of information requests made for the release of information about my flat.

The background to the current furore is this: my family home is in Lancashire and that is where my children go to school. I must be in Westminster for four days each week and so like other MPs need somewhere to stay. I purchased the flat in question just before the housing price collapse and used my own capital to fund the deposit for the property. I did this on the understanding that I could claim mortgage interest which would be less costly to the taxpayer than renting a similar property. I never claimed taxpayers’ money for decorating. The risk of the purchase was all mine, not the taxpayer’s. Read more.

Ben Wallace | The Telegraph | 19th October 2012

Cumbria Police Taser Use Figures Revealed

TASERS have been deployed by police in Cumbria more than 100 times in the past 18 months.

The figures, revealed to the Evening Mail following a Freedom of Information request, showed that Tasers were deployed 139 times from March last year to August this year.

Thirty of these instances involved firing the Tasers.

The deployment figures include every use of the Taser from a “red dot” warning with a laser light to the devices being fired. Read more.

North West Evening Mail | 22nd October 2012

The day in FoIA: Royal veto powers, Blair’s bust, HS2 train’s countryside discount and Oxbridge behaving badly

Royal powers of veto over laws to be made public

Details of secret powers held by senior members of the Royal Family granting veto over Government legislation could me made public after a decision by the Information Commissioner.

The Cabinet Office has been told to hand over papers which guide ministers on when and how to consult the Queen and Prince Charles over new laws.

It follows a Freedom of Information request by campaigners amid mounting concern over the Prince of Wales’s intervention in public life on issues ranging from architecture to nanotechnology.

Read more.

Jonathan Brown | September 1st 2012

Tony Blair to be honoured with Parliament bust

Tony Blair could return to the House of Commons – but as a work of art rather than in person.

The former Labour Prime Minister is currently missing from the otherwise complete set of sculptures in the Members’ Lobby representing Prime Ministers of the 20th century.

But minutes from the Commons’ Works of Art Committee meetings, released under Freedom of Information legislation, reveal that Mr Blair has agreed to sit for a portrait bust of himself.

Read more.

Rosa Silverman | The Telegraph | August 31st 2012

Price of land for high-speed rail link between Birmingham and London slashed 90 per cent by the Government

The cost of land to be used for development of the high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham has been dramatically reduced by the Government.

Officials have cut the ‘landscape value’ of some of England’s finest countryside by as much as 90 per cent, it was reported.

The new figures were only discovered after campaigners against the 109-mile route going through the London green belt and the Chilterns – an Area of Outstanding Beauty (ANOB) – made a number of request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more.

Daily Mail | September 2rd 2012

Oxbridge students’ drunken antics revealed under the Freedom of Information Act

They are Britain’s foremost academic establishments, attended by the very elite of society.

But details of appalling behaviour by students of Oxford and Cambridge universities, recently released under the Freedom of Information Act, suggests the best and the brightest are also some of the most depraved.

Discipline reports issued by 15 Oxbridge colleges chart hundreds of drunken incidents, many involving police and paramedics, that have taken place since 2010 alone.

Read more

Daniel Miller | Daily Mail | September 3rd 2012

Cambridge University hit by record number of bomb hoaxes

Bomb hoaxers targeted Cambridge University 42 times in the first six months of this year, the News can reveal.

Figures released under freedom of information laws highlight the scale of the disruption to students and staff this year as a result of bomb scares.

The data shows the number of alerts at the university increased in the last two years from 16 in 2010, 10 in 2011 to 42 between January and June this year, when the scares reached their highest level.

Read more.

Cambridge News | August 31st 2012

The day in FOIA: politics in the Niger Delta, public servants expenses, olympic torch costs and roadside camera blind spots

Nigeria: British Govt Releases 2009 Letter of Tony Baldry

The British Government has finally released, but partly, the September 2009 letter on behalf of former Delta State governor James Ibori that it received from a Conservative Member of Parliament, Tony Baldry.

The letter, which ignited a Freedom of Information (FOI) controversy in 2010, demonstrates why Mr. Baldry did not want it in the hands of the public: while he did not make a direct case for Ibori or his associates, the letter was a disguised, intensely-sympathetic appeal to the government to intervene on their behalf.

The granting of the FOI request was made in a letter dated July 31, 2012, from Jonathan Drew, a Deputy Head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to author and blogger Richard Wilson.

Read more.

Abiodun Oluwarotimi | All Africa | August 25th

Public Servants’ £1.5bn expenses claims

THE recent revelation made under Freedom of Information laws that public servants charged £1.5bn of expenses to taxpayer- funded credit cards despite David Cameron’s pledge to end the practice surely shows the FOI laws serve a useful purpose.

Former prime minister Tony Blair says he believes the law that his government introduced was wrong. Mr Blair is wrong.

The FOI act needs strengthening, on the US and Swedish models Secondly I find myself in agreement with former prime minister Gordon Brown when he invokes Britain’s Olympic medal success as an argument against Scottish independence.

Read more

Andover Advertiser | August 24th 2012

Manchester MP slams £300k bill for Olympic torch relay

London 2012 organisers have been slammed for making cash-strapped town halls pay towards the Olympic torch relay.

Greater Manchester’s councils spent more than £300,000 on security, entertainment and other costs associated with the event. Across the north west, the figure is expected to top £1m.

Now Manchester MP Graham Stringer – who uncovered the costs using the Freedom of Information Act – has claimed Olympic organisers should have stumped up the cash themselves.

Read more.

Manchester Evening News | August 25 2012

Cornwall Council still spending millions on temp staff

Cornwall Council is continuing to spend millions of pounds on outside consultants and agency staff.

A freedom of information request to the authority has shown that over the last 22 months a total of £21,411,368, including all the associated costs, has been spent.

One of the highest costs was for the commercial lead role in the strategic partnership project, described as one of the biggest service privatisations’ Cornwall Council has ever undertaken.

Read more.

August 24th 2012

Roadside cameras suffer from large gaps in coverage, police admit

Police chiefs have admitted there are flaws in a “big brother” surveillancesystem that enables them to track and store the daily journeys of millions of motorists.

The police chief who co-ordinates the growing network of more than 5,000 roadside cameras, which records the whereabouts of 16m vehicles, said the network was patchy and left”large gaps in coverage in various parts of the country”.

Police made the admissions as they won a freedom of information tribunal to keep secret the locations of the the cameras, arguing that disclosure would allow criminals to evade detection.

Read more.

SA Mathieson and Rob Evans | The Guardian | @7th August 2012

The day in FOIA: academia and the arms industry, Tony Blair’s ‘gold plated’ pension, attacks on emergency service workers and pothole compensation

Top universities take £83m from arms industry

Some of Britain’s top universities have accepted millions of pounds from the arms industry giving the controversial trade “a veneer of respectability,” campaigners said today.

Figures obtained by the Huffington Post under Freedom of Information requests show that in the three years from 2008-2011 leading British universities received at least £83m from British arms companies and government military agencies.

The figures, analysed by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), focus on the 24 Russell Group universities

Read more.

Paddy McGuffin | Morning Star | August 23rd 2012

Blair’s £400,000-a-year bill to taxpayers: Multi-millionaire ex-PM enjoys perks and pension

Tony Blair is costing taxpayers more than £400,000 a year despite building up a £30million fortune since leaving Downing Street.

Figures have revealed that multi-millionaire Mr Blair is drawing the maximum Prime Ministerial pension – worth about £70,000 a year.

The gold-plated pension comes on top of the £115,000 allowance that Mr Blair received last year to support his ‘public duties’.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Treasury confirmed that under the Parliamentary and Other Pensions Act 1972 former premiers are entitled to a pension ‘based on one half of salary at the time of leaving office’.

Read more.

Kirsty Walker | Daily Mail | August 24th 2012

Emergency Workers Attacked Three Times Every Day In South Ayrshire

MORE than 180 emergency workers were attacked in the line of duty in South Ayrshire last year.

That is an average of more than three assaults every single week.

But shockingly only 41 of these attacks were ever reported to the procurator fiscal, and only 17 of the thugs responsible were convicted.

The worrying statistics were revealed to the Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Doctors, nurses, police, ambulance staff and paramedics were all victims of the 181 reported attacks on emergency workers that took place in the 2011/12 financial year.

Read more.

Jennifer Buchanan | Ayreshire Post | August 24th 2012

Councils’ £15m bill for cars damaged by potholes as one in eight motorists suffer damaged vehicles

One in eight motorists have suffered damage to their cars from neglected roads and potholes in the past two years, with millions of pounds being paid out in compensation by cash-strapped councils.

The one in three local authorities that responded to a nationwide survey revealed that they had paid out £4.8million after claims by drivers following two harsh winters.

With data lacking from two out of three councils, this means the compensation bill for this period could well be up to £15million.

Britannia Rescue issued Freedom of Information requests to 434 city, district, borough and county councils.

Read more.

Daily Mail | August 23rd

Cabinet’s Iraq war files will stay secret for three decades after publication is blocked by Attorney General

Cabinet’s Iraq war files will stay secret for three decades after publication is blocked by Attorney General

Secret Cabinet papers on the decision to invade Iraq could be kept from the public for three decades.

The crucial minutes of ministerial meetings in 2003 were approved for release under Freedom of Information laws but blocked at the last minute by the Attorney General.

Dominic Grieve’s ruling yesterday is a repeat of the decision made by Jack Straw in 2009 over the same papers.

Read more.

Jack Doyle | Daily Mail | August 1st 2012

GATA Files New Freedom Of Information Act Document Requests

In 2007 and again in 2009, the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA), whose website is http://www.gata.org, filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the US Treasury and Federal Reserve seeking documents related to gold swaps going back to 1990.

In response, a modest quantity of largely irrelevant documents were turned over, some heavily redacted, along with statements that neither agency had any other documents that fell within the disclosure rules of the FOIA request

Read more.

Patrick A. Heller | Coinweek | July 31st 2012

MPs criticise Tony Blair for failing to co-operate with inquiry

MPs criticise Tony Blair for failing to co-operate with inquiry

Tony Blair has been sharply criticised by MPs for his failure to co-operate with their parliamentary inquiry into the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act.

The former Labour prime minister refused to respond to the Commons justice select committee which wanted to question Blair on how he could describe himself in his autobiography as a “nincompoop” for introducing the legislation which he now regarded as “antithetical to sensible government”.

Read more.

Alan Travis | The Guardian| 26 July 2012

Sexual orientation of residents accidentally published by council

A council has been criticised after it publishes personal details of thousands of residents in response to a Freedom of Information request including their names, addresses and sexuality.

Islington Council in north London has published personal information, including the sexuality, of almost 2,500 residents online.

The latest mix-up happened as they responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request on the website What Do They Know?

Read more.

The Telegraph | 26th July 2012

Research ‘needs exemption from freedom of information act’ say UK politicians

A cross party group of politicians has recommended that England’s laws on freedom of information be amended to protect universities from having to release data prematurely.

Universities in the UK have complained in the past that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act can be used to force the release of research findings and data before they are ready for publication. In a report released today, Parliament’s Justice Committee agrees, saying a ‘pre-publication exemption’ should be brought in. Scotland already has such an exemption, and extending it to England and Wales is required to “protect ongoing research” says the committee, which has been conducting an inquiry into how well the act is working.

Read more.

Daniel Cressey | Nature Journal | 26th July 2012

Blair was briefed on UK UFO files

Prime Minister Tony Blair was briefed on the UK’s files about UFO sightings in 1998, newly declassified MoD documents have revealed.

Writer Nick Redfern urged him to “consider making available for public scrutiny all of the many and varied UFO reports compiled by the government”.

The request came as the government began to implement Freedom of Information (FOI requests).

Read more.

BBC | July 12th 2012

Alex Salmond told to reveal if he took legal advice on EU

Alex Salmond has been ordered to reveal if he has received legal advice on whether an independent Scotland could join the European Union.

Scotland’s Information Commissioner ruled that Scottish ministers were wrong to impose the equivalent of a super-injunction by refusing to say whether they had such advice.

In a detailed judgment, Rosemary Agnew said the Scottish Government had broken Freedom of Information (FoI) laws and gave it six weeks to confirm or deny the existence of the 

Read more.

Ian Swanson | The Scotsman | July 12th 2012

Disabled children four times more likely to be victim of violence: study

One in 20 children has a moderate or severe disability and a British study has found they a quarter of them have been attacked physically, sexually, abused emotionally or neglected.

A team from John Moores University in Liverpool examined 17 studies including a total of 18,000 children aged over two from Britain, America, Sweden, Finaland, Spain and Israel.

Last month a Freedom of Information request revealed that disability hate crimes have doubled since the financial crisis began in 2008.

Read more.

Rebecca Smith | The Telegraph | July 12th 2012

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