FOI Disclosure Stories 15 – 21 June 2009

Revealed: catalogue of atomic leaks – Guardian 21/06/09
“The scale of safety problems inside Britain’s nuclear power stations has been revealed for the first time in a secret report obtained by the Observer that shows more than 1,750 leaks, breakdowns or other ‘events’ over the past seven years. The damning document, written by the government’s chief nuclear inspector, Mike Weightman, and released under the Freedom of Information Act, raises serious questions about the dangers of expanding the industry with a new generation of atomic plants.”

NHS Gateway Reviews damn £13bn IT decisions – Computerworld UK 19/06/09
“The government has published 31 Gateway reviews into the highly troubled £12.7 billion National Programme for IT… The documents revealed that stakeholders and health officials have long had doubts about the NPfIT suppliers – of which only BT and CSC are left – and have questioned whether the programme can ever deliver value for money. Nearly a third of the 31 reviews are so severe that they gave a ‘red light’ to elements of the programme, which means there was a need for immediate remedial action and serious reconsideration of the NPfIT progresses.”

Revealed: BBC’s panic after Dando’s murder
– The Independent 18/06/09
“Her death shocked a nation and led to a police hunt for her killer which continues today. Ten years after Jill Dando was killed with a single bullet to the head, confidential minutes disclosed to The Independent [under the Freedom of Information Act] reveal for the first time how the BBC responded to the cold-blooded murder of its most popular television presenter.”

Social work vacancies as high as 39%
– Guardian 17/06/09
“Social work departments are desperately short of qualified staff – including one authority with a 39% vacancy rate – the UK’s largest public sector union warned today. The scale of the problem and the consequent difficulty helping vulnerable adults and children have been revealed by a series of Freedom of Information requests submitted by Unison. The figures show that the national average for social work vacancy rates are running at around 12%.”

Mass dolphin stranding linked to navy exercises – New Scientist 17/06/09
“An investigation into the UK’s largest ever mass stranding of common dolphins has identified military activity as the most probable cause – although no single activity can be definitively linked to the stranding… documents obtained under the UK Freedom of Information act have provided researchers with unprecedented access to military records of navy activity in the area… The UK navy had been conducting exercises in the area several days before the stranding, and on the morning of the stranding itself.”

MPs’ £1.90 meals
– The Sun 17/06/09
“MPs are enjoying meals for less than £2 – subsidised by the taxpayer, it was revealed yesterday. They can buy cut-price food and drink at 28 restaurants and bars in the Houses of Parliament. Recent menus, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, show grub sold at a fraction of the cost charged elsewhere in London.”


Rates hike on cards as pension pot dips – Belfast Telegraph 16/06/09
“Business and domestic ratepayers face a hike in district rates as a result of a dramatic fall in the value of Northern Ireland’s local government pension scheme because of the global financial crisis. Northern Ireland’s local government pension fund lost £600m in value between January 2007 and the beginning of this year, a Freedom of Information request to the fund — run by the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) — reveals. It dropped in value from £3.088bn to £2.469bn.”


Pubs face closure over rule change for licensing – The Herald 16/06/09
“The future of thousands of pubs, clubs, hotels and off-sales premises is in doubt after new figures show that fewer than half of licensed premises have had managers checked and approved under new legislation. With only 11 weeks before Scotland’s new liquor laws come into effect, figures obtained through Freedom of Information show just over 7500 applications for “personal licences” have been granted, from approximately 17,000 premises.”

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