Friday, January 05, 2007

Media update

Roundup of FOI related news stories from over Xmas and New year

The Guardian - Lions, tigers and leopards kept as pets
"Twelve lions, 14 tigers and 50 leopards are among scores of big cats being kept in Britain by licensed private owners, it emerged today. According to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there are 154 assorted non-domestic cats privately owned as well as almost 500 monkeys, 2,000 ostriches, 250 poisonous snakes and 50 members of the crocodile family."

The Guardian - 'Summer of race riots' feared after clashes in 2001
"The disclosure that Britain stood on the edge of widespread riots involving disaffected Muslim youth in the summer of 2001 is made in Home Office papers disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act."

The Guardian - Public has right to know why BBC apologised after Hutton, Dyke says
"Speaking at a freedom of information tribunal, he said the BBC governors made the "embarrassing and unjustified" apology for the way in which it reported on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "It was a betrayal of what the BBC stood for," he said."

The Guardian - Osborne hits back at tax cut criticism
"The Conservatives faced embarrassment after figures published by Gordon Brown's department showed that tax cuts recommended by its policy group would benefit the most wealthy and lose the Treasury £8bn more in revenue than projected...The Conservatives used a Freedom of Information request to see the Treasury analysis, based on an October report from the Conservative tax reform commission."

Independent - What freedom of information?
"Labour's flagship freedom of information laws are being blocked by ministers who are increasingly refusing to answer routine inquiries about government policy, new figures show."

Belfast Telegraph - Viewpoint: Telegraph wins airport secrets battle
"Derry City Council's decision to drop its appeal against a Freedom of Information Act ruling, and fully disclose its financial dealings with Ryanair, marks an important victory for the Belfast Telegraph and the freedom of the Press."

The Times - the fear of strangers
"Yet it is only by posing questions to the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act that our reporter Dominic Kennedy has revealed what is usually concealed. Specific data on random homicides is usually lumped into a wider, more general category. This is surprising. For without detailed information, it is hard to track shifts in behaviour."

Daily Telegraph blogs - Freedom to conceal Information
"Although you wouldn’t guess it from the documents released today, 1976 was the year of Harold Wilson’s Lavender List and the divorce of Princess Margaret from Lord Snowdon."

The - Standard to attack govt on FOI exemptions
"The Freedom of Information Act will face its biggest test today, as the Government readies its appeal against the Evening Standard and the Information Commissioner. The two parties will do battle in the Information Tribunal, arguing over whether the Information Commissioner was right to allow a freedom of information request from Evening Standard education correspondent Dominic Hayes. The case concerns section 35 of the Act, which makes any information on the development of policy exempt from disclosure. Hayes asked for information on the minutes of meetings within the Department of Education and Schools concerning the schools funding crisis of 2003."

Public Servant Today - Does the Freedom of Information Act do what it was designed to?
"EXCLUSIVE: The Freedom of Information Act 2000: is it a golden opportunity for meddlers or a sign of genuine open government? In this article exclusive to Public Servant Daily, Simon Charlton, associate at law firm Weightmans, looks for an answer."

"MORE than 80 per cent of Doncaster schools breached basic food hygiene standards in a series of tests in the last year, the Free Press can reveal.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that out of 101 food hygiene inspections made by Doncaster Council officers in 2005-06, contraventions were discovered in 69 out of the 84 schools inspected."

Ireland Online - Prison files destroyed ahead of Freedom of Information Act
"Prison authorities in the North destroyed 52,382 files in the months before
the Freedom of Information Act was introduced."

Portsmouth News - Hummingbird' silenced as police software flops
"FAILING software designed to ensure the public access to police information has been scrapped. Hampshire police agreed to buy the software produced by Hummingbird to help respond to Freedom of Information requests. It was hoped the £47,000 product would help staff get to information available under the Freedom of Information Act more easily – ensuring the public better access to information they have a right to know. But since the software was installed it has failed to work. Now the force is to get back the £33,000 it had already paid for the software."

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