Wednesday 25 February 2009

FoI fear: Iraq minutes veto may be used again

The Campaign for Freedom of Information has warned that the government’s decision to veto the release of the Iraq cabinet minutes could set a precedent.
Maurice Frankel, the Campaign’s director, said the Campaign “was concerned that having been used once, the veto might now be used in other cases involving the examination of policy at lower levels in government.”
It also expressed serious concern at the statement of Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that the government was actively considering widening some of the Freedom of Information Act’s exemptions, to make it easier to withhold official information.
The recent review of the 30 year rule, by a committee chaired by Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, recommended that government records be released after 15 years instead of 30 years.
The campaign noted the Dacre report also suggested that the government should consider amending the the FoI Act’s exemptions to provide "enhanced protection"’ for sensitive information.
Frankel said this "raises the prospect of an unacceptable trade off, greater secrecy about current information in return for more access to old government files.”

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