Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not really a surprise

The so called 'information tsar' (wonder where the tsar thing comes from??? Anyone?) has attacked the secrecy in which government departments cover their tracks. It's almost as if he's surprised they are doing it...
Freedom of information laws are being undermined by the political establishment, a watchdog warns.
Information commissioner Christopher Graham claimed secret documents were being destroyed and Whitehall officials were using private email addresses to evade scrutiny.
He also criticised David Cameron, Tony Blair and former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell for labelling the legislation as a ‘horrible mistake’.
Mr Graham added that public criticism was ‘driving bad behaviour’ and possibly illegal activity in Whitehall.
The thing that seems to be escaping politicians and civil servants about public criticism is that they're actually supposed to work for us and do what we via the electoral system ask them to do. The fact that they're acting illegally to avoid criticism suggests that they are up to stuff they shouldn't be.
The Act, passed by Labour in 2000, has been criticised by senior political figures as hampering effective government because of fears that communications involving civil servants, ministers and the Cabinet may be made public.
Wonder whatever happened to nothing to hide, nothing to fear, it's not like they're going to publish state secrets, just the dirty little deals which they don't like the idea of the public finding out about. Which begs the question why make them in the first place? Particularly if they know the public won't like them.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Mr Graham claimed his office had evidence of the destruction of public documents but could not prosecute because of the tight six-month limit on building a case.
He also suspected that the use of private email accounts was widespread in Whitehall.
 Now I know that occasionally there have to be speculative discussions (People do it all the time in pubs, it's called putting the world to rights) And I accept that occasionally that saying or thinking out loud the unthinkable ought to go on. That said, such acts can be dealt with by putting in the term speculative and should only become a matter of public concern if it's acted upon without a full 'public' discussion.
The very fact that Whitehall departments are shredding evidence of their 'wrongdoing' does suggest that there is a hidden agenda behind much of what is said or discussed openly in government. the actions of the EU and its promotion within the state is one example that springs to mind, immigration, human rights, asylum seeking a few others.
All in all I view the freedom of information act a good thing, the very fact that the state has to rely on illegal methods to avoid it suggests it being strengthened rather than scrapped as a lot of MP's and government departments want.

1 annotations:

Anonymous said...

tsar comes from ceaser