Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Media update

The case at Birmingham City Council listed below related to the proposed casino development is worth loooking at and is one the first cases of a "reverse FOIA" action from a company seeking judicial review to block release, the council has decided on internal review to release.

National news

The Guardian- Gatting's bust-up with umpire just wasn't cricket, said British envoy
"The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, shed fresh light on the row when Gatting, accused of cheating by Rana, stood toe-to-toe with the umpire in a heated exchange that caused the second Test to be stalled for a day and a half."

The Guardian - The interrogation camp that turned prisoners into living skeletons
"As horrific as conditions were at the London Cage, Bad Nenndorf was far worse. Last week, Foreign Office files which have remained closed for almost 60 years were opened after a request by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act. These papers, and others declassified earlier, lay bare the appalling suffering of many of the 372 men and 44 women who passed through the centre during the 22 months it operated before its closure in July 1947."

The Guardian - British family firm accused of getting rich by building bridges to nowhere
"A Guardian investigation has discovered that steel bridges costing more than £400m have been sold to the Philippines by the Mabey family, all secured with UK government-backed loans and grants. But many of the crossings, which were supposed to open up the flood-prone jungle terrain, have no roads to go with them."

The Mirror - BBC Pay £15.5M in bonuses
"THE BBC paid £15.5mil-lion in staff bonuses while bidding to axe 3,780 jobs over the next three years. Almost half the workforce - more than 10,000 - have been given extra payments in the past year. And the figures do not include £546,000 sums to executive board members or bonuses at commercial arm BBC Worldwide. The payouts were not listed in the BBC's annual report and were only revealed yesterday after a request under the Freedom of Information Act."

Epolitix - Ministers 'take out the trash'
"In a move made famous by the West Wing TV series, ministers have been flooding the media with a series of potentially embarrassing stories. In the US television series White House staffers release all their bad news on one day in a bid to prevent the media covering all of it. The tactic is described as "taking out the trash.....:Department for Constitutional Affairs publishing statistics on how swiftly Whitehall is meeting targets for releasing data under the Freedom of Information Act. The Treasury answered just 43 per cent of the 310 inquiries it received inside the 20 day limit during the third quarter of this year".

Managing information
- Data Protection Act - House of Lords Dismisses Durant - Linklaters Report
"The EU Commission sent a "letter of formal notice" to the Department for Constitutional Affairs in 2004 regarding the United Kingdom's implementation of the Data Protection Directive. Despite requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and a pending appeal to the Information Commissioner, the Department for Constitutional Affairs has not released a copy of this letter or commented on its contents. However, it is thought to be critical of the decision in Durant amongst other things."

E-gov monitor - Freedom of Information maintains a steady course
"Government Departments in Northern Ireland received 592 requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in the third quarter of 2005. The number of requests confirms that Freedom of Information (FOI) is now well established in Northern Ireland."

BBC news - Women 'head to UK for birth care'
"Patients from outside the EU are asked to pay for their NHS care
A BBC investigation has found a growing number of women from overseas are travelling to Britain to give birth in NHS hospitals....under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC has obtained figures from about one in 10 of the UK's maternity hospitals"

BBC news - Patients 'confused over rights'
"Patients are deluded about their rights in the NHS, a survey suggests.....However, the Freedom of Information Act, which came into force at the beginning of the year, has strengthened some rights to information on infection rates and staffing numbers."

Daily Telegraph - Need an electrician... ask a policeman
"Thousands of police officers across the country are moonlighting as lorry drivers, car salesmen and even embalmers.Current figures from the Metropolitan Police show that its officers have declared 2,303 outside business interests ranging from directorships to being a musician, selling candles, and "computer technology".A detailed list disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act shows a similar picture in Lincolnshire, with 94 different types of job being declared."

Reuters - Britain ran torture camp after World War Two - paper
"Britain ran a secret prison in Germany for two years after the end of World War Two where inmates including Nazi party members were tortured and starved to death."

Local news

Hold the front page - True cost of health negligence claims revealed by reporter's FOI probe
"A tip-off about a hospital negligence claim led Kentish Gazette reporter Alex Claridge to investigate the true cost of such claims through the Freedom of Information Act. He found the bill to the health authority was £30m in the past ten years."

ICDunbartanshire - Pupils behind in basic standards
"Thousands of high school pupils across Scotland are failing to reach basic standards in literacy and numeracy, according to new figures.More than three in 10 S2 pupils - in the second year of high school - were getting poor results in reading, statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Scotsman newspaper found."

Birmingham Post - US casino firm gags council
"An American gaming corporation is threatening a High Court injunction to prevent The Birmingham Post from publishing financial information and contractural details of a super-casino at the new Birmingham City stadium. Las Vegas Sands said it would take legal action to stop Birmingham City Council releasing the content of a legal agreement it signed with Las Vegas Sands and Birmingham City FC. The threat followed a Freedom of Information Act application by the Post requiring the council to release the agreement, which binds the council, Las Vegas Sands and the football club to work together until 2009 in an attempt to secure a casino at the Wheels site in Saltley....It is believed to be the first time under the Freedom of Information Act that a council has acted in favour of the public interest but a third party has wanted to prevent publication"

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