Monday, February 21, 2005

Media roundup

Daily Telegraph 21st February - (opinion) Freedom of information could leave us even more in the dark"Rather than enhancing democracy, the new laws have undermined Parliament by handing power from elected politicians to unelected judges and information commissioners. Instead of increasing openness, they have encouraged the political establishment to close ranks. There is a growing sense of dismay at the very highest level on Whitehall. Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, now spends an hour a day deciding which documents should be made public, and other permanent secretaries devote at least as much time to their Freedom of Information intrays"

Guardain 21st February - Crestor dose was double recommendation
"confidential documents the Guardian obtained under the Freedom of Information Act this month showed that the UK regulators had seen higher rates of rhabdo in Crestor patients than other statins, prompting restrictions on the highest dose on the market, 40mg, last year."

Scotsman 20th February - Councillors get on junkets bandwagon
"But while all eyes were on Holyrood, just what were Scotland’s 1,200 local councillors up to? The answer, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, is publicly funded travel - and plenty of it. Scotland on Sunday asked every one of the country’s 32 local authorities to reveal which trips councillors had undertaken over the past three years. Glasgow failed to provide any information, blaming an "administrative error", while Orkney and Inverclyde claimed not to have received our request"

Eastern Daily Press 20th February - The true cost of Magdalen Street flyover
"The true cost of the controversial project to repair the Magdalen Street flyover in Norwich was £1.4m, it emerged last night. The total - revealed in documents released under new Freedom of Information Act (FOI) - was double the original projected cost for the much-delayed scheme, which should have taken six months to complete but was finished after more than a year."

Sunday Times 20th February - Drivers face paying congestion charge at Heathrow
"PASSENGERS arriving at Heathrow by car face paying a congestion charge under proposals being considered by the government to tackle traffic pollution at Britain’s biggest airport. Proposals for the congestion charge are outlined in documents released by the Department for Transport last week under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents relate to the meetings of a stakeholder group examining access to the west London airport"

Guardan 19th February - Academies 'will create two-tier school system'
"The government's controversial initiative to replace failing inner city schools with privately run academies threatens to create a two-tier education system based on social class, according to a confidential, government-commissioned report. Ministers had refused to release the study by consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers but a copy obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act casts doubt on the programme's ability to improve standards and encourage innovative teaching and learning."

Guardain 19th February - MoD says staff names are secret
"The Ministry of Defence is trying to knock a large hole in the Freedom of Information Act by claiming that the identities of all its 100,000 civil servants are secret. The ministry has even refused to disclose the identity of scores of senior officials listed in officially published handbooks. Their names and jobs already appear in guides such as the civil service yearbook, the foreign office diplomatic list and Who's Who. The policy came to light when the MoD refused a Guardian request to supply a copy of the staff directory for the department's arms sales unit, Deso (the Defence Exports Services Organisation)." 18th February - Role of the PM's envoy to Mideast is revealed
"New light has been cast on the diplomatic role played by Lord Levy, one of Tony Blair's closest confidants, whose engagements with Middle East leaders were published on Friday under the Freedom of Information Act"

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