Hands Off FOI…Don’t weaken the Freedom of Information Act

Posted: 14 November, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

hands off foi logo Petitioning Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Matthew Hancock MPThe Freedom of Information Act established the broad principle that public bodies must release information if the public interest in doing so outweighs the public interest in it remaining secret.

We, the undersigned, urge the Government not to do anything which would detract from that principle.

In particular we urge you:

  • to ensure that the Act continues to allow for the release of internal discussions at local and central government level when there is a public interest in doing so
  • not to seek to create any new veto powers over the release of information
  • not to introduce charges for Freedom of Information Act requests or appeals.

Any charges could dramatically undermine the ability of requesters, including regional press journalists and freelances in particular, to use the Act to hold authorities to account.

Investigative journalism is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes difficult to justify for news organisations which are under financial pressure. It needs to be nurtured and encouraged, for the benefit of society and democracy, not subject to Freedom of Information charges which would be effectively be a tax on journalism.

This petition was launched by Press Gazette as part of the Society of Editors’ Hands Off FoI campaign. It also has the backing of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

Sign the petition from change.org

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