Daniel Morgan inquiry: draft report condemns masons in police
Masons in British policing face new scrutiny by the inquiry into the failed investigations into private investigator Daniel Morgan’s murder.
  The draft report by the inquiry panel on the case raises fresh concerns about freemasonry’s impact on the police attempts to investigate the gruesome killing. The panel was “shocked” to learn that a junior officer on the initial investigation was ‘Grand Master’ of the local freemasons’ lodge.

Why neither truth nor justice were served in ‘Nick’ trial
As the dust still flies following the ‘Nick’ trial, Mark Watts sets out some of why the convictions of Carl Beech – aka ‘Nick’ – are unsafe.
  The public should be on the alert when the media works in lock-step with the state to ignore the alarm bells over the way in which Carl Beech was convicted and duly to pronounce that Britain’s scandal over VIP paedophiles was all nonsense. I reveal why the ‘Nick’ trial is a serious miscarriage of justice.

Harvey Proctor had sexual interest in children, court heard
Two police investigations gathered evidence that former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor had a sexual interest in children, Newcastle crown court heard.
  One witness told police that Proctor sexually abused him as a 14-year-old boy, while other witnesses told detectives that the then MP beat “young men or boys” and took photographs of their injuries, according to submissions made without the jury to the ‘Nick’ trial.

Terrorism: Whitehall willing to use SAS over heads of police
Mandarins at the Home Office are prepared to order the SAS to a terrorist crisis without the knowledge of police, a confidential memo reveals.
  The extraordinary document, sent to a few senior civil servants, outlined the policy after the shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher (left) and siege at the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.
Revealed: key extracts from Whitehall ‘wash-up’ file on Libyan crisis

MI6 discloses limited ‘paedophile files’ on spy Peter Hayman
MI6 has partially opened up its secret files on paedophile allegations against its officers and agents for the inquiry into child sexual abuse.
  The UK’s overseas intelligence agency has released to the inquiry limited information on Sir Peter Hayman, the late MI6 officer who sometimes worked under diplomatic cover and was an especially dangerous paedophile.
Revealed: MI6’s secret ‘paedophile files’ on three other suspect spies

Peter Hayman ‘let off’ after David Napley pleaded with DPP
Paedophile spy Sir Peter Hayman escaped prosecution in 1978 after his solicitor personally lobbied the then director of public prosecutions, new evidence reveals.
  The DPP, Sir Thomas Hetherington, agreed not to prosecute Hayman at a private meeting with his solicitor, Sir David Napley, who pleaded with the country’s then top prosecutor to let his client off.
Detectives left devastated after Peter Hayman avoided prosecution

MI5 hands over ‘paedophile files’ on ‘VIPs’ to CSA inquiry
MI5 has disclosed secret information buried in its files about paedophile allegations against nine ‘VIPs’ – including six MPs – to the inquiry into child sexual abuse.
  The FOIA Centre can also reveal that the inquiry’s chairwoman, Alexis Jay, and its legal team, went to a meeting at MI5’s headquarters (pictured right) last July and viewed some of its files.
Revealed: MI5 ‘paedo-files’ on six MPs, two spymasters and a mandarin

Ken Clarke to be quizzed by CSA inquiry about Whips’ Office
Senior politicians led by Ken Clarke and Nick Brown face questions about the secrets of the Whips’ Office by the inquiry into child sexual abuse.
  The CSA inquiry has summoned the two MPs and two Lords, who have all worked as whips in the House of Commons, to explain the ‘dark arts’ of the job.
PIE used link to Roy Jenkins in lobbying effort to cut age of consent

CSA inquiry to MI5: reveal truth about Peter Morrison MP
MI5 will be ordered at the inquiry into child sexual abuse to reveal what it knew about top Tory MP Sir Peter Morrison.
  The CSA inquiry, chaired by Alexis Jay, has obtained evidence that MI5 received information from a Conservative party agent for Westminster that Morrison had “a penchant for small boys”. Morrison became PPS to Lady Thatcher when she was prime minister.
Lord Steel faces grilling over deriding claims against Cyril Smith MP

Yard noted interest of Sir Michael Havers in ‘Playland’ trial
Police raised private concerns about the interest taken by Sir Michael Havers before he became Lord Chancellor in the ‘Playland’ trial about a paedophile ring.
  The revelation – based an Old Bailey memo – comes from Anthony Daly, author of a new book, ‘Playland’, which I review today.
Roddam Twiss ‘attended party to watch sexual abuse of two boys’
Playland review: troubling book testifies to scandal of abuse by VIPs

Police file High Court challenge over Yvonne Fletcher case
14.01.18 – updated 19.02.18  
Rank-and-file police officers have launched an unprecedented judicial review over the refusal to prosecute the suspect in the murder of their colleague Yvonne Fletcher.
  They have lodged the case in the High Court against the home secretary, foreign secretary and GCHQ, the UK’s signals-intelligence agency, for blocking key evidence from being used in a prosecution on grounds of “national security”.

How Alan Clark tried to stitch me up after I ordered his arrest
Politicians have expressed varying degrees of horror that two retired police officers dared to talk about their experiences as policemen who arrested Damian Green, until recently effectively the deputy prime minister.
  However, I have no qualms in revealing that in 1996 I ordered the arrest of Alan Clark for an offence of obstructing police in the West End of London. By Geoff Platt.

Cyril Smith: key evidence to CSA inquiry ignored by media
Shocking revelations and startling testimony punctuated 14 extraordinary days of public hearings on the Rochdale investigation in the overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse. But the media failed to report on most of them.
  The shadow of the monstrous Sir Cyril Smith, the late former Liberal MP, loomed large over the “Rochdale” hearings of the CSA inquiry in October…

Cyril Smith’s boyfriend Harry Wild ‘groomed’ young inmates
Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith’s councillor boyfriend preyed on young male inmates of a prison in Rochdale, a previously confidential police report reveals.
  Harry Wild, who was a Tory councillor in Rochdale and chairman of the council’s social services committee, is suspected to have shared with Smith a sexual interest in under-age boys. Police investigated Wild over claims that he tried to groom inmates at Buckley Hall jail.

Carole Kasir: coroner blocked from ‘incriminating’ questions
Coroner John Burton was blocked from asking “incriminating” questions of the ex-boyfriend of the woman who ran the notorious Elm Guest House.
  I can reveal private notes taken by the coroner for Carole Kasir’s inquest in 1990 that shed new light on the case that has long been at the centre of controversy over whether the co-manager of a paedophile brothel linked to VIPs killed herself – or was murdered.

Mike Veale’s warning about vilification of Edward Heath probe
Police chief Mike Veale condemned the campaign against his investigation into Sir Edward Heath for increasing the suffering of survivors of child sexual abuse.
  A campaign of vilification has dogged ‘Operation Conifer’, the national investigation into allegations against the late former prime minister of child sexual abuse, since the Mail on Sunday last November branded accusers as “fantasists”.

CSA inquiry lacks ‘investigative capability’, warns Mike Veale
Wiltshire Police chief constable Mike Veale warns that the overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse may be hampered by an absence of “pro-active investigative capability”.
  The officer who led ‘Operation Conifer’, the national investigation into Sir Edward Heath, the late former prime minister, hopes that the inquiry will take over the momentum on investigating a possible establishment cover-up over child sexual abuse (CSA).

Mike Veale slams Keith Vaz over Edward Heath intervention
Wiltshire Police’s chief constable is “sick to death” of repeated past failures to investigate prominent people for child sexual abuse properly.
  Mike Veale has told friends that he is “appalled” by the discoveries of ‘Operation Conifer’, his force’s national investigation into allegations against Sir Edward Heath, former prime minister. It found repeated past failures to investigate claims.

Operation Conifer: Mike Veale ‘appalled’ by past cover-ups
04.10.17 – updated 04.02.18  
Wiltshire Police’s chief constable is “sick to death” of repeated past failures to investigate prominent people for child sexual abuse properly.
  Mike Veale has told friends that he is “appalled” by the discoveries of ‘Operation Conifer’, his force’s national investigation into allegations against Sir Edward Heath, former prime minister. It found repeated past failures to investigate claims.

Police delayed Edward Heath report to avoid Tory conference
Police delayed publishing a report on their investigation into Sir Edward Heath over child sexual abuse to avoid overshadowing the Conservative party conference.
  Mike Veale, chief constable of Wiltshire Police, has sent a full, confidential report detailing evidence that Heath was an active paedophile while he was prime minister to Amber Rudd, home secretary, in the past fortnight.

Revealed: Met forces deletions from Nicola Edgington report
Scotland Yard succeeded in watering down the official report that reveals how police and NHS failures allowed a schizophrenic patient to murder a stranger.
  Nicola Edgington, who was living in the community, killed a grandmother with a knife in 2011 – almost decapitating her. The report is expected to be published today after being leaked to me. But I can reveal what has been modified.

Sally Hodkin’s son slams probe into murder by schizophrenic
NHS investigators are under fire from the son of the grandmother murdered at random by a schizophrenic patient for making “scapegoats from low-hanging fruits”.
  Nicola Edgington killed Sally Hodkin, 58, in south-east London in 2011 by slashing her neck with a butcher’s knife – almost decapitating her. Sally’s son, Len, said: “We think that the general public will be as outraged as we are.”

Leaked: official report on investigation into murder by Nicola Edgington
Damning findings of a probe into the murder by a schizophrenic patient of a stranger can be revealed today. By Mark Watts.
  The long-awaited report on the investigation has been leaked to me. It highlights failures by police and hospital staff as “root causes” of the killing of a grandmother, Sally Hodkin, in London. Nicola Edgington almost decapitated her.

Key extracts: how police and NHS failures led to murder of grandmother Sally Hodkin

Yvonne Fletcher: Libyan envoy is only ‘VIP’ to agree to go to memorial event
Only one dignitary has accepted an invite to this month’s anniversary commemoration of WPC Yvonne Fletcher’s shooting dead outside the Libyan embassy – Libya’s ambassador.
  Organisers are stunned that other “VIPs” – including the mayor of London, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, and senior ministers – have failed to respond to an invite. It comes weeks after PC Keith Palmer’s killing in the Westminster attack.

Met covers up official report of probe into murder by schizophrenic patient
Scotland Yard is blocking publication of a report that reveals how police failures allowed a schizophrenic patient to murder a stranger.
  It objected to the conclusions of the official report of an investigation into the murder of a 58-year-old grandmother by Nicola Edgington (pictured) in London.
Nicola Edgington gave up pleading to be detained and went on to murder Sally Hodkin

Data journalism at Exaro showed way to financially sustainable new media
Exaro showed how a small start-up team can hold power to account, but it also pointed the way to make investigative journalism financially sustainable. So how could the journalistic success of Exaro be matched on the commercial side?
  Its editorial team, frustrated by the lack of progress on Exaro’s business side, began a project to carry out data journalism in a way that also had commercial use.

Exaro helped Britain turn corner on dark chapter over child sexual abuse
Investigating the sexual abuse of children is harrowing for journalists and an especially difficult area to uncover the truth.
  The main witnesses – maligned by much of society that prefers to “blame the victim” than confront the truth – are often wrestling with post-traumatic stress disorder well into adulthood. Some parts of the media, outrageously, use that condition to dismiss survivors of child sexual abuse as “mentally ill”.

Archive of FOIA Centre articles from before 2011...

MPs accused of verbally abusing staff at expenses watchdog
Several MPs stand accused of launching aggressive and foul-mouthed tirades at staff of the new expenses watchdog. The accusations were detailed in documents released today under FOIA.
  The watchdog was set up in May following a series of revelations – also triggered by FOIA – of MPs’ expenses claims.
Commons was to defy full disclosure ¦ High court orders exes release
MPs’ travel exes out
¦ Appeal fails ¦ MPs ‘must release travel exes’

Obama’s FOIA promise shows poor beginning, data shows
America’s federal government made greater use of legal exemptions to prevent disclosure under FOIA during president Barack Obama’s first year in office. That is the conclusion of a review by the Associated Press and came despite Obama’s promises of increased openness.
  The review of 17 US government departments found that, in total, they reported using nearly every one of the FOIA exemptions more in the 2009 fiscal year, compared with the previous 12 months.

The Guardian complaints system exposed
After an “investigation” into two MediaGuardian blog articles written by commentator Roy Greenslade, the newspaper’s much-trumpeted editorial complaints system is today exposed as a sham.
  Mark Watts, whose complaint about Greenslade was partly upheld and partly rejected, reveals how The Guardian sets lower standards of integrity for journalists than parliament does for MPs.

Why Greenslade was wrong about ‘NUJ Left’
Archive: The ‘NUJ Left’ files

Lord’s legal bid poses ‘constitutional crisis’
Ministers are facing a legal challenge that threatens to unravel the reforms of the house of lords in 1999.
  If the reforms were ruled to be defective, then all legislation that passed through the house since then would be void, sparking an extraordinary constitutional crisis. A hereditary peer who lost his seat in the upper house, Lord Mereworth, is mounting the landmark legal challenge.

FOIA Centre wins as MMR appeal is dropped
Whitehall health officials have abandoned their appeal against an order to fully disclose the minutes of committees that decided on introducing MMR in the UK.
  The Department of Health withdrew the appeal lodged in January against a ruling by the information commissioner that the minutes should be disclosed to the FOIA Centre with no redactions.
Government appeals order on MMR minutes
Archive: the MMR files

Commons planned to defy full disclosure
Parliament was set to defy demands for full details of MPs’ expenses even when it was finally going to release receipts in July.
  Its plans were in tatters after The Daily Telegraph began publishing details taken from a CD apparently containing unredacted receipts, including the cost of second homes.
High court orders release of MPs’ expenses
MPs’ travel expenses finally revealed
Commons loses travel expenses appeal
MPs ‘must release travel expenses’

Watchdog backs FOIA Centre on MMR minutes
Minutes of Whitehall committees that decided on introducing MMR should be fully disclosed, the information commissioner ruled in a decision backing the FOIA Centre.
  The emphatic ruling marks a significant victory for FOIA in holding government departments to account for their actions.
Detailed findings by watchdog on MMR minutes
FOIA Centre news archive: The MMR files

Housing corporation’s £17m blunders revealed
Blunders behind the failure of a £17 million flagship IT project by the government's housing agency are revealed in a confidential report. It was released under FOIA after a 17-month battle. By Bill Goodwin.
  Weak management and a lack of openness were key factors that led to the project failing to meet either its deadlines or budget. The report also reveals that documents dating from early in the project appear to have gone missing.
Memos reveal strategy to prevent FOIA disclosure

Met’s ex-chief paid £300,000 for Diana probe
23.12.07 updated 03.01.08
Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens was paid more than £300,000 to head an official investigation into the death of Diana, princess of Wales.
  Payment figures were dragged out of the Met under FOIA after Stevens tried to stop their release.
Coroner quits Diana inquest after FOIA revelation
Met’s Diana probe cost £750,000 in first year

How spin doctors control ‘erring’ ministers
One of Tony Blair’s former spin doctors reveals how the Labour government in the UK keeps “erring” ministers “on message”. By Fiona O’Cleirigh.
  Lance Price, deputy to Alastair Campbell when he was Tony Blair’s official spokesman, explains how the Downing Street press office made ministers who publicly expressed doubts about any government policy change their mind – within minutes.
Why British government prefers ‘spin’ to FOIA

UK government scraps plans to restrict FOIA
Ministers abandoned their planned restrictions on “freedom of information”.
  The government had proposed changes to the government’s charging regime to make it easier for public bodies to refuse a FOIA request by claiming that it is too expensive.
MPs say ministers should drop FOIA restrictions
Ministers delay planned restrictions on FOIA
FOIA regulator’s bid for funding boost refused
Analysis on govt plans:
  Heather Brooke ¦ Tim Gopsill ¦ FOIA Centre

Government set to break promise to MPs on FOIA

MMR group action collapses in high court
Families of children allegedly damaged by the MMR triple vaccination saw their group claim for damages in the high court collapse today.
  All but two claims against various pharmaceutical companies must be discontinued, or else be struck out, because of the withdrawal of legal aid. But the judge stressed that his ruling did not reject any of the contentions that MMR had seriously damaged the children.
FOIA Centre news archive: The MMR files

Govt appeals to high court on ID-cards order
Lawyers acting for the government are to appeal to the high court against an order to disclose confidential reviews on ID-cards.
  The office of government commerce has already lost an appeal to the information tribunal against the order under FOIA.
Tribunal orders disclosure of ID-cards reports
‘Openness on IT would spark department clashes’
Government attacks FOIA watchdog over ID-cards

Lawyers defrauding legal aid to be ‘named’
All lawyers found to have defrauded the legal aid system are set to be officially “named and shamed”. The Department for Constitutional Affairs disclosed the move in response to a FOIA request for details about investigations into legal-aid payments.
  The department, which has merged into the new ministry of justice, says that the names of lawyers shown to have taken such money “in an inappropriate fashion” are to be published shortly.
Cherie Booth earns £30,000 a year from legal aid

Memos reveal strategy to block FOIA requests
Government officials devised a secret strategy to frustrate any request for the disclosure of the findings of an investigation into a troubled information-technology project. By Bill Goodwin.
  Confidential memos expose how officials at the housing corporation planned a strategy to block any request filed under FOIA for a report on the investigation, seeking tips from government lawyers on the tactics that they could use to prevent disclosure. Officials began to devise their strategy even before the investigation was completed and despite the presumption under FOIA in favour of disclosing requested material.

NHS to spend £1m seeking reporter’s source
NHS bosses have spent at least £300,000 trying to identify the source of a freelance journalist’s story about Moors murderer Ian Brady. And the final bill could top £1 million.
  The disclosure of the figures under FOIA comes after the court of appeal ruled in February that the journalist, Robin Ackroyd, should not have to reveal his confidential sources.

Ministers postpone ‘cost’ restrictions on FOIA
Ministers today announced a delay to their plans to introduce tight curbs on the use of the UK’s “freedom of information” law. Any changes to the fees regulations governing “freedom of information” look set to be delayed until the autumn.
  The department for constitutional affairs had planned to bring in the restrictions on FOIA next month. However, it today announced a further period of consultation on its proposals.
Heather Brooke: politicians must embrace FOIA
Tim Gopsill: curbing FOIA is bad for democracy
Why ministers’ attempt to foil FOIA needs to fail

Whitehall was warned about MMR risk
05.03.07 – updated 21.03.07
Britain used a version of MMR for four years even though health officials knew of problems with it in other countries, newly released documents show.
  Previously confidential Whitehall documents, released under FOIA, show how government health officials and experts gradually learnt several months earlier of the dangers of the type of MMR introduced, which causes encephalitis-type conditions, including meningitis, in some cases. The MMR with the known dangers was replaced after four years.
Revealed: how officials dismissed MMR alarms
FOIA Centre news archive: The MMR files

FOIA regulator’s bid for funding boost refused
Ministers have again refused a request from the information commissioner for additional funding to clear the backlog of FOIA complaints.
  The department of constitional affairs, which oversees FOIA in the UK, rebuffed the plea for a boost of £750,000 for the 2007/08 financial year to clear the backlog by March 2008.
FOIA regulator seeks £750,000 to clear backlog

MPs: commissioner must become more ‘assertive’

DCA agrees to half of £1m bid to clear backlog
What’s up with the information commissioner?

‘We’re trying our best and we’re getting tougher’

More Scottish bodies to be covered by FOISA
Ministers in Scotland have drawn up a list of hundreds of Scottish bodies that could in future be covered by “freedom of information”. By Hamish Macdonell.
  The Scottish executive is to contact a range of organisations – including independent schools, charities and even newspapers – before deciding whether to make them subject to the freedom of information (Scotland) act (FOISA). Margaret Curran, minister for parliamentary business, revealed the move following a review of FOISA.
‘Secret Scotland’ forced open by FOISA regulator

Why restricting FOIA is bad for democracy
“Freedom of information” in the UK is under attack. The department of constitutional affairs wants to stifle the FOIA genie.
  Tim Gopsill, of the National Union of Journalists, explains why the proposed curbs would be a backward step for democracy.
Why ministers’ attempt to foil FOIA needs to fail

Government set to break promise to MPs on FOIA
Ministers consider changing FOIA charges regime
MPs: commissioner must become more ‘assertive’

Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges

MPs’ travel exes revealed after long battle
Parliament today finally released a breakdown of travel expenses for each one of the UK’s 646 MPs. The disclosure under FOIA came after it lost an appeal against a decision that it must disclose details of expenses claimed by each MP for travel by car, rail, air and even bicycle.
  The figures show a wide variety of claims. Local newspapers throughout the UK were today scrutinising the details for any signs of possibly excessive claims by MPs in their area.
Parliament loses appeal over MPs’ travel expenses
Commons appeals decision on MPs’ travel exes

‘Brown’s think-tank’ doubled events at No11
Chancellor Gordon Brown’s base in Downing Street doubled the number of seminars it hosted for the Smith institute despite an official warning to the “think-tank”.
  A second set of documents released under FOIA shows that the Smith institute, a registered charity, held 27 events in the past 12 months at 11 Downing Street – more than double its initially requested frequency – despite the charity comm-ission warning six years ago that its use of No11 raised questions over its political independence.
Smith institute warned about its use of No11

Govt attacks FOIA watchdog over ID order
Government lawyers attacked the information commissioner for not living in the “real world” after ordering disclosure of confidential reports on the identity-cards programme. By Bill Goodwin.
  The battle over whether the “gateway review” reports should be disclosed under FOIA has pitted ministers against the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, and the case is due to go before the information tribunal in March.
NHS neutered NAO’s criticisms of IT scheme

Blair’s government favours ‘spin’ over FOIA
As the government prepares to tighten the rules on freedom of information, ministers are becoming some of the most effective leakers in the land.
  Nicholas Jones, former BBC political corres-pondent, reveals how the government “manages” information while undermining FOIA.
Government set to break promise to MPs on FOIA
Ministers consider changing FOIA charges regime
MPs: commissioner must become more ‘assertive’
Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges

Royal Mail’s bid for ‘junk mail’ secrecy fails
Acute sensitivity at the Royal Mail over public outrage about the deluge of “junk mail” it distributes has been exposed by FOIA.
  The Royal Mail refused to disclose data on how many people have registered to stop receiving unaddressed junk mail, claiming that it was “commercially sensitive”. But it looked foolish because similar data was released by the mailing preference service.

Hain faces inquiry over untruthful FOIA reply
Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain is under investigation after his department replied to a FOIA request untruthfully. By Mark Lloyd.
  A high court judge said that untruths told in the FOIA reply and to subsequent court hearings during a legal challenge to the way Hain appointed the interim victims commissioner suggested that there was an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
How FOIA untruths landed Hain in legal troubles
Justice Girvan’s questions for Hain inquiry in full

Inspection report: care home is still failing
Standards at a care home fail to meet legal requirements four years after it tried to suppress a health authority investigation into complaints against it.
  The findings of an unannounced inspection follow a FOIA revelation that the home had threatened to sue a health authority if it published the investigation.
How FOIA opens up care homes to public scrutiny
Revealed: how FOIA casts light on health issues

FOIA regulator asks for another funding boost
Constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer is considering a request from Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, for another funding boost of £750,000.
  Thomas says that the extra money is needed to clear the backlog of FOIA complaints by March 2008.
Government set to break promise to MPs on FOIA

DCA agrees to half of £1m bid to clear backlog
What’s up with the information commissioner?
Richard Thomas: ‘We’re trying our best’

Government set to break promise on FOIA
Ministers are poised to break a promise made to Parliament that they would not curb freedom of information by changing arrangements for charges.
  Lord Falconer, constitutional affairs secretary, confirmed today that he is “minded” to change the rules to make it easier for public bodies to refuse requests because of excessive cost.
Ministers consider changing FOIA charges regime
MPs: commissioner must become more ‘assertive’
Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges

NHS neutered NAO’s criticisms of IT scheme
Criticisms by official auditors of the £12.4 billion NHS information-technology scheme were removed or neutered under government pressure. By
Tony Collins.
  Draft versions of a report by the national audit office (NAO) into the project, disclosed under FOIA, reveal what the covered-up criticisms were. And there are sharp differences between three draft NAO reports and the final version, with a series of crucial omissions, additions and alterations.
With obsessive official secrecy, is FOIA any use?

How FOIA opens up care homes to scrutiny
Care homes are being forced to reveal what is going on behind closed doors thanks to “freedom of information”.
  Relatives of elderly residents in care homes have made astonishing discoveries about these places because all public bodies – including the commission for social care inspection, which regulates care homes, as well as children’s homes and other social services – are subject to FOIA.
Revealed: how FOIA casts light on health issues

UK gave £17m arms package to Saudi Arabia
Labour ministers gave a £17 million package of arms as a “gift” to Saudi Arabia as part of the UK’s “Al Yamamah” defence deal. A private ministerial letter, disclosed under FOIA, reveals the “gift”, including 100 precision-guided missiles.
HMG auditors wrote second ‘Al Yamamah’ report
NAO doubts over keeping Saudi arms report secret
MoD worried MPs would re-think publishing report
NAO never cleared ‘Al Yamamah’ of bribery claims

Analysis: Press must return to real journalism
– updated 26.01.07
Newspapers – broadsheets and tabloids alike – spend ever-more restricted resources on the quick-fire “dark arts” of journalism to gather information. By Mark Watts
  They prefer to do this, especially for celebrity tittle tattle, rather than invest in legitimate methods, such as exploiting FOIA, to find real news. That will have to change as the police and information commissioner clamp down on obtaining personal data illegally.

PCC urged to stop press stealing information
Revealed: how newspapers gather material illegally

Prison drug finds rise by a third in three years
Drug finds in UK prisons have risen by more than a third over the past three years, new figures reveal. It comes as a leaked confidential prison service report suggested that as many as 1,000 prison officers in Britain are corrupt.
  Data released under FOIA shows that the total number of drug finds reached 5,490 in 2005, up from 4,050 in 2002.

Ministers consider raising FOIA charges
Ministers are considering an increase in charges for FOIA requests. A leaked confidential cabinet paper proposes that fees should be set to deter “the most difficult requests”.
  The paper by Lord Falconer, constitutional affairs secretary, presents options on how fees could be changed. He wants new rules to make it easier for the government to refuse requests on the grounds that they are too costly.
Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges

Coroner for Diana quits after FOIA revelation
Coroner Michael Burgess resigned from the inquest into the death of Diana, princess of Wales, hours after the government admitted that he had no jurisdiction.
  Officials conceded earlier in the day, following a FOIA request, that the royal coroner was conducting the inquest on a false basis. The wrongful claim of jurisdiction is crucial because it enables, exceptionally, the jury to consist entirely of royal staff members.
Met’s Diana probe cost £750,000 in first year

MPs: FOIA regulator must be more ‘assertive’
MPs who investigated “freedom of information” in the UK called on the information commissioner to “adopt a firmer approach” with public bodies.
  The cross-party constitutional affairs committee, chaired by Alan Beith, a Liberal Democrat MP, says the priority should be “a more effective and assertive enforcement of the law.”
Govt agrees to half of backlog budget bid
Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges
What’s up with the information commissioner?
Lord Lester’s battle over Iraq legal advice

BBC unveils the stories it found through FOIA
‘We’re trying our best and we’re getting tougher’

Byers was warned on Railtrack administration

Labour’s relations with big business have been undermined following the release of minutes of government meetings about Railtrack going into administration.
  Minutes of a series of high-level meetings conducted by Stephen Byers, then transport secretary, released under FOIA, show that he received a warning from Tom Winsor, then the rail regulator, about his proposed strategy. The minutes are bound to shake the trust of the financial city of London in the government.

Home office funds Muslim Council of Britain
– updated 05.06.06
Letters between the home office and a high-profile muslim group reveal that the government has provided it with at least £150,000 of funding.
  The group, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), led at the time of the grant by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, had asked for £500,000, according to correspondence disclosed under FOIA. It raises questions about the MCB’s independence from the government.

Lord Lester’s battle over Iraq legal advice
17.03.06 – updated 26.05.06
MPs were warned of a “continuing culture of secrecy in parts of Whitehall”. The warning came from Lord Lester, who told a parliamentary select committee about his tortuous experience of using FOIA to extract the date on which the government first sought and obtained legal advice about the legality of the invasion of Iraq.
BBC unveils the stories it found through FOIA

DCA agrees to half of £1m bid to clear backlog
Ministers are to pay half of the budget bid by the information commissioner to clear the backlog of complaints made under FOIA.
  The department for constitutional affairs has agreed to a boost of £550,000 to the annual budget of £5 million for the office of the information commissioner, which regulates FOIA in the UK.
Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges

Private health care on NHS set to rise five-fold
Private health companies will carry out up to 15% of NHS treatment in two years, a report released under FOIA by the department of health predicts. This represents more than a five-fold rise to 1.25 million procedures per year by 2008/09. It shows the huge growth of private health provision to the NHS planned by the government.
How FOIA is casting light on health issues

Medical staff reveal NHS waiting-list fiddles
NHS gives contraceptive drugs to young girls

Ministers deny plans to increase FOIA charges
Ministers deny that they plan to increase charges for FOIA requests in an attempt to curb freedom of information. The department for constitutional affairs made the denial in evidence submitted to a parliamentary committee.
  But it fell short of denying any plan to increase charges in order to meet any aim other than deterring requests.

What’s up with information commissioner?
As pending FOIA complaints reach 1,500, MPs were unimpressed by the regulator’s excuses at a parliamentary hearing.
  Heather Brooke, “freedom of information” campaigner and author of a guide to Britain’s newly implemented act, explains how the regulator needs to change.
Richard Thomas: ‘We’re trying our best’

BBC unveils the stories it found through FOIA
BBC journalists have disclosed a list of revelatory stories that they obtained during the first year of full implementation of FOIA in the UK.
  The BBC produced the list for MPs on the parliamentary constitutional affairs committee, which is reviewing how FOIA is working.

Richard Thomas: ‘We’re trying our best’
FOIA regulator Richard Thomas told MPs that the information commissioner’s office is trying its best and is becoming “tougher”.
  He faced a grilling at the constitutional affairs committee hearing held today over the performance of his office in regulating FOIA during its first year of full implementation.

Commons told to release MPs travel exes
Parliament has been ordered to disclose a breakdown of travel expenses for each MP in the UK. The house of commons had refused to release the information, saying that it would breach the data protection act and would be “unfair” to MPs.
  In one of the most significant “decision notices” made by the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, he has ruled that the house of commons must meet requests for the details under FOIA.

British officials ‘abused detainee after arrest’
06.03.06 – updated 11.03.06
British officials are accused of being party to the abuse of a Guantanamo detainee just before his transfer to the prison camp. The claim is made in a statement buried among thousands of pages of documents released under FOIA by the Pentagon.
British inmate claimed ‘prisoner of war’ status
‘We don’t care about international law’
Naming the names of ‘Camp Delta’ prisoners
US forced to identify Guantanamo detainees

NHS gives contraceptive drugs to young girls
Hundreds of girls aged 14 or under have received on the national health service contraceptive injections that make them infertile for up to three years as part of the government's effort to prevent teenage pregnancies.
  Figures released under FOIA show that the injections were given to 750 girls aged 14 or under in England during a single year. Contraceptive implants were given to another 150 girls in the same age group.

E-mail reveals Standard Life ‘smeared’ critic
Insurer Standard Life stands accused of smearing a rebel policy-holder, Michael Hogan. An e-
mail sent to Standard Life executives and advisors, which has been disclosed under the data protection act, reveals an attempt to discredit the critic who stood for election to the mutual's board.

  Entitled, “Some interesting details re M Hogan,” the 500-word e-mail raised queries about Hogan’s business record.

MoD staff to receive secret Commons ‘steer’

Military personnel and defence officials giving evidence to parliament’s defence select committee will in future be warned about the likely areas of questioning.
  The ministry of defence released under FOIA guidance issued to staff as part of reforms in response to criticism in Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, the late weapons inspector.
MoD audits its press relations

Archive of articles from before 2006...

Cherie earns £30k a year from taxpayers

Met chief tried to stop probe into shooting

PCC urged to stop press stealing information
Revealed: how newspapers gather material illegally


Met’s Diana probe cost £750,000 in first year

Police raise ratio of speed traps with cameras



The Guardian's FOIA section
Best UK newspaper for FOIA articles, mostly by FOIA specialist Rob Evans.

Information commissioner
Regulator in UK for FOIA and other open-access laws

Information tribunal
Hears appeals to ‘decision notices’ of information commissioner.

Scottish information commissioner
Regulator in Scotland for FOISA (FOIA in Scotland) and other open-access laws.

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"Christian Wolmar is a Pulman among story tellers," Sunday Telegraph. "An astonishing account of [an] amazing feat of engineering,"
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
Atlantic Books, £9.99 www.christianwolmar.co.uk
REVEALED: how Benji "the binman" Pell supplied Britain's Press with documents trawled from rubbish bags Artnik Books, £12.99
Lifting the lid on Fleet Street...
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Revealed: secret ‘VIP paedophile’ probe in Dolphin Square
Police ran a secret operation into alleged child sexual abuse at “sex parties involving political, government and military figures” at Dolphin Square and other locations.
  A former detective revealed to Scotland Yard details of the previously unknown case, ‘Operation Mileshogue’, from 1996-9.
Ex-detective on Operation Mileshogue’ into VIP paedophiles’
MP caught on ‘sex tape’ with ‘teenager’ after OCG raid


Bill Goodwin           Campaigners take  over using FOIA      from journalists                                     

Heather Brooke        Politicians must       follow the voters      and embrace FOIA 
Nicholas Jones         Why government     favours ‘spin’ and    ‘plants’ over FOIA   


Heather Brooke's 'Your Right to Know' is a necessary antidote to the British culture of secrecy 2nd edition, Pluto Press, £13.99

Order a copy of this guide to FOIA and other open-access laws from Amazon

Daniel Morgan inquiry panel expected to finish report years ago
Members of an inquiry panel thought that they would finish four years ago their report on police failures over private investigator Daniel Morgan’s murder.
  Sources close to the panel revealed that it was on “a real drive” to complete the report in 2017 but obstacles by the Metropolitan Police Service wrecked the timetable. “The Met is just bigger and better at being corrupt than the rest,” one source said.



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   Tony Collins: With obsessive official secrecy, is FOIA of any use?    
Tim Sanders  cartoonist/illustrator
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Pic: Paolo Valdemarin