Monday, February 07, 2005

Media Roundup

Observer 6th February - We must not use our new freedom to play politics
"The information act is fair on all parties, writes Lord Falconer"

Sunday Telegraph 6th February - Britain's top civil servant dragged into Labour dirty tricks row
"In a highly unusual intervention, Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary, insisted that his involvement in a dispute over the disclosure of documents relating to Black Wednesday in 1992 had been "entirely proper". Furious: Sir Andrew Turnbull
Sir Andrew is understood to be furious after being portrayed as part of an "old boy network" that tried to block the publication of the highly sensitive documents under the new Freedom of Information Act. It was alleged that he had worked with John Major and Norman Lamont, the Prime Minister and Chancellor in September, 1992, to stop the papers being made public."

Guardian 2nd February - Quest for answers
"After years of being fobbed off or simply ignored, green campaigners believe the Freedom of Information Act could be a powerful tool in forcing open the door to an era of greater environmental justice. John Vidal and Rob Evans"

The Times 4th February - Cover-up row over £27 billion secret of Black Wednesday
"Highly sensitive Treasury papers on the events leading to Black Wednesday in 1992 are being kept secret at the request of John Major and Lord Lamont of Lerwick, Prime Minister and Chancellor at the time, The Times has learnt."

The Times 4th February - Mandarins are far from free with information despite new legal rights
"Most government departments were refusing to give details last night of how many freedom of information requests they had turned down, or the reasons why. Very few requests had fallen into the “absolute exemption” category and been turned down flat, although several departments appeared to be hiding behind excuses not to respond to requests. One of the most frequently cited was the need for extra time to ensure that it was in the public interest to disclose the information."

The Mirror 5th February - No 10 plans Tory smear before poll
"Labour was yesterday accused of using the new Freedom of Information Act to smear Michael Howard and the Tories in the run up to the election. A leaked Labour memo suggests workers are to ask for files relating to a relative of Mr Howard jailed for drug offences."

The Independent 5th February - Whitehall 'abusing spirit' of disclosure law
"The Government was accused of abusing "the spirit" of the Freedom of Information Act yesterday by people whose questions had been blocked.They expressed frustration with the lack of openness shown by Whitehall departments and blamed the Government for "going out of their way to avoid giving out material." 5th February - Lamont approves full publication of Black Wednesday archives
"Lord Lamont, the former chancellor, gave the green light yesterday to the publication of about 300 pages of Treasury documents on the events of Black Wednesday, when the pound was ejected from the European exchange rate mechanism, insisting he had never sought to keep them secret." 4th February - Black Wednesday document wait leads to manipulation claims
"Sensitive papers relating to Black Wednesday - theday sterling was expelled from Europe's exchange rate mechanism - are certain to be published soon. But sug-gestions by some Whitehall figures that the publication of the papers has been delayed has raised questions about how effectively the Freedom of Information Act is working."

Eastern daily Press 4th February - Report sums up cost of new hospital
"Confidential documents covering the Private Finance Initiative scheme to build Norfolk's flagship hospital have been made public.
The contractual details have been released by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after the EDP asked to see them under the new Freedom of Information Act. Published for the first time are the two key agreements between the trust and Octagon Healthcare, the private consortium that built the £229m hospital."

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