A Tax on Journalism; New Campaign to Keep Vital Freedom of Information Act Free for All

The Birmingham Post (England), October 29, 2015 | Go to article overview

A Tax on Journalism; New Campaign to Keep Vital Freedom of Information Act Free for All


Byline: Graeme Brown Head of Business graeme.brown@trinitymirror.com

POLITICIANS from across the region have warned against watering down the Freedom of Information Act.

A consultation has been launched into the act, created in 2000 to give the public "right of access" to information held by the authorities they pay for, leading to fears of it being watered down.

In the past, Birmingham City Council has called for a charge for requests, while making it easier to refuse requests on cost grounds is also now on the agenda.

The Post, along with sister title the t Birmingham Mail, is calling on the Government to keep its hands off the act, which our journalists have used in dozens of investigations exposing issues the public deserve to know about. And it has secured the backing of Birmingham MPs from both sides of the floor.

Erdington Labour MP Jack Dromey said he would raise the issue in Parliament as soon as he could, with the commission set to publish findings next month.

"In a free society, freedom of information is essential," he said.

"The powerful must be held to account and should never be able to hide behind a veil of secrecy.

"The Government is wrong to restrict Freedom of Information and the Birmingham Mail is right to l speak out in the best democratic traditions."

Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell said he supported the campaign to ensure the Freedom of Information (FoI) act remained.

He said he backed a review of the act but it was important this did not lead to it being weakened.

"The principle of Freedom of Information should be kept," he said.

"But I do think the system can be made to work better in the interests of freedom of information and good governance."

The Government's Independent Commission on Freedom of Information is gathering information for a ten-year review.

Charges for FoI have already been backed by the National Police Chiefs Council and Birmingham City Council, which has in the past called for a PS25 fee for any requests.

However, a council spokesman said it had not made a submission to the commission. …

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