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Articles

Landmark ruling on Article 10

In a landmark decision, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the case of Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v. Hungary that there is a right to information from public authorities under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK’s Supreme Court had previously found that the Strasbourg court’s case law had not established this – but the new decision clearly does so.
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MP’s policy correspondence protected on privacy grounds

In a remarkable decision the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that an MP’s letter to a local council about its parking policy should be withheld to protect the MP’s privacy – though there is no suggestion that the letter contained anything about the MP’s personal circumstances (ICO Decision Notice FS50530093).
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No strength in numbers

FOI requesters should not encourage others to apply for the same information in order to put pressure on the authority to release it. The tactic is likely to backfire leading to the request being refused as vexatious, as a recent tribunal case shows (Michael Sivier v Information Commissioner, EA/2013/0277).

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Does Article 10 create a right to information?

The Supreme Court is currently considering whether Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights incorporates a right to freedom of information. The Campaign has joined with the Media Legal Defence Initiative in intervening in this important case and are represented by Richard Clayton QC and Christopher Knight.

The case has been brought by Dominic Kennedy, a Times journalist, who was refused information by the Charity Commission under a blanket FOI exemption which applies regardless of the harm or benefit of disclosure. He argues that the refusal breached his rights under Article 10.
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No limits on freedom of information? What about the 13 pages of exemptions

This letter by the Campaign was published by The Guardian on 18 July 2012, in response to an article by the commentator Simon Jenkins.

Simon Jenkins takes a hefty swing at the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that its “total disclosure” damages good government. (For the digital revolution, this is the Robespierre moment, 10 July). But there is no “total disclosure” under FOI as anyone who has grappled with the act’s 13 pages of exemptions knows.

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Freedom of Information and rejected honours

Letter to The Times responding to an article by Matthew Parris arguing that “the advance of Freedom of Information should be reversed.”

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No need for more cabinet secrecy

Letter to The Times responding to comments made by Sir Gus O’Donnell, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, that the Freedom of Information Act should be amended to provide greater protection for cabinet papers.

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The Blair Memoirs and FOI

That Tony Blair regrets introducing the Freedom of Information Act has been known for some time. But the force with which he reproaches himself in his new autobiography for doing so is truly remarkable: Read More

Time limit for prosecution of offences under section 77 of the FOI Act

The Information Commissioner’s office statement that the university at the centre of the ‘climategate’ email scandal did not deal with FOI requests as it should have done under the legislation has received a lot of media attention. Section 77 of the Act makes it an offence for any person to deliberately destroy, alter or conceal a record after it has been requested with the intention of preventing its disclosure. The offence is triable only in the magistrate’s court. However, under section 127(1) of the Magistrates Court Act 1980, proceedings for all such offences must be brought within 6 months of the offence occurring.

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Policy advice released after months not decades

A version of this article by the Campaign’s director, Maurice Frankel, appeared in Press Gazette on 2 May 2008.

In the past, officials’ advice to ministers, and the discussions leading to it, have been confidential. You could see it after 30 years, but not before. The Freedom of Information Act has shattered that convention.

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