Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Media update

BBC - Open Secrets Blog
-How journalism works 2
"This revelation stemmed from documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. So was this a speedily made and answered FOI request from Newsnight? No - actuallly the documents had been sitting for months on the website of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport."
-Revealed: departments which delay
The government departments with the worst record of excessive delays in their dealings with the Information Commissioner are the Foreign Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs, I can reveal.

BBC news - Whitehall fights ID costs demand
"The freedom of information watchdog ordered the Department of Work and Pensions to publish its findings about how the cards could fight ID fraud. "

BBC news - Private ambulance regulation call
"An investigation has been carried out into a private ambulance company in Plymouth after concerns about the care of an elderly patient. After a Freedom of Information Act request, the BBC learned she was taken to hospital by a Medic Air European worker who had said he was a paramedic. But he was not a paramedic and saying he was is against the law."

Daily Telegraph - Prescott met US billionaire seven times
"The Conservatives demanded a parliamentary statement about Mr Prescott's influence on casino policy after they used the Freedom of Information Act to unearth what they claimed was potentially damning new evidence about a visit he made to Australia."

The Times - Treasury to appeal pension decision
"The Treasury is to appeal against a ruling that it must release secret documents explaining why the Government chose to implement a £5 billion a year tax "raid" on the nation's pensions."

The Guardian - Trident convoys carry risk of nuclear blast
"The 36-page declassified summary is entitled Operational Safety Case for Transport of Nuclear Weapons. Large chunks of the text had been censored before release under the Freedom of Information Act."

Daily Telegraph - Second secret report on Saudi deal
"The list, released under the Freedom of Information Act and seen by The Daily Telegraph, also suggests the Ministry of Defence was aware of this second study."

Daily Telegraph - Homicides soar by a quarter under Labour
"But separate statistics, released by the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act, show that most people caught with knives are let off with a fine or a caution. Only one in seven is jailed; and this month's crime figures will show a surge in robberies."

Daily Telegraph
- Cost of secrecy
"The introduction of the Freedom of Information Act has partly accounted for the increase in the Queen's official expenditure, although the Royal Family is exempt from the Act. Three new members of staff have been taken on to stop Government departments from revealing details about the Royal Family." - ICO: FOI report is helpful
"The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said today's report on the Freedom of Information Act is "genuinely helpful". The constitutional affairs committee report recognised that the act was working, but expressed concerns about delays in processing information requests and argued that the ICO should be made accountable to and funded by parliament."

"We sent Freedom of Information Act requests to all UK primary care trusts, NHS trusts and care trusts asking how many doctors, nurses and professionals are now suspended. Most have at least one. The numbers could be much higher as staff are often put on "gardening leave" - a way of forcing them to stay home without having to register it as a suspension."

The Guardian - More checks on reactors ordered after cracks found
"Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, published in the Guardian yesterday, show that the inspector who visited Hinkley Point B raised concerns over cracks that have appeared in graphite bricks in the core of the reactor since 2004."

British Nursing News - Beds in Scotland needs to increase
"The Scottish National Party (SNP) have said that the number of hospital beds in Scotland needs to increase after figures, obtained by the party under the Freedom of Information legislation, showed there were 39,668 beds in Scotland's hospitals in 1996-7."

Regional news

"Aberdeenshire Council is to contest an order from the Scottish information commissioner to release details about staff working at a north-east ski centre. The authority initially refused a request to give the names, job titles and job descriptions of its staff at the Huntly Nordic Ski and Outdoor Centre, on the grounds that it amounted to personal information."

Chester Chronicle - Armed forces face recruitment battle since war in Iraq
"THE Army and RAF have suffered a recruitment crisis in Cheshire since the Allied invasion of Iraq. Figures secured under the Freedom of Information legislation show that the number of people joining the Army has dropped by almost a third across the region."

Manchester Evening News
- 43 GMP officers in police racism claims
"Forty-three officers have made formal complaints of racism since GMP was branded "institutionally racist" eight years ago. In that time five police officers were sacked, two demoted and four fined following the accusations, according to statistics obtained by the M.E.N. under Freedom of Information laws. One of the officers who was sacked has now been reinstated."

Cambridge news - Police withheld expense details
"The News requested details of how much the constabulary had spent sending officers abroad during investigations under the Freedom of Information Act, but the information has been withheld following claims it would cost a massive £10,000 to retrieve from the force records."

This is Wiltshire - MP reports PCT in information row
"WEST Wilts MP Dr Andrew Murrison has reported West Wiltshire Primary Care Trust for failing to provide him with information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. He has written to the Information Commissioner, who promotes access to official information and deals with complaints about breaches of the Act."

Overseas FOI news

USA -Bryan College Station Eagle - US funds study on changing Freedom of Information Act
"SAN ANTONIO - St. Mary's University School of Law will conduct a government-funded study of possible alterations to the Freedom of Information Act aimed at fighting terrorism, a school official said. Jeffrey Addicott, head of the school's Center for Terrorism Law, said the yearlong project will examine ways of rewriting the open government law to prevent terrorists from getting sensitive information about water, sewer, electricity and transportation systems."

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