New Statesman backs FoI campaign

The New Statesman editorial team has backed Press Gazette’s FoI campaign, calling the Government’s proposed changes to FoI an attempt to stop journalistic investigation.

Political editor Martin Bright told Press Gazette: “It’s going to make it increasingly difficult to hold the Government to account, and it is a classic Government gambit to hide behind the cost of bureaucracy in order to stop journalistic investigation.”

In 2006 the New Statesman revealed the existence of a secret first full draft of the Iraq WMD dossier after a member of the public came to them with a Freedom of Information request he had been pursuing for two years.

Surrey-based charity worker Christopher Ames contacted the Foreign Office asking for disclosure of the draft. Although referred to in the Hutton Inquiry, the document itself was never disclosed.

It took two years to force the Foreign Office to admit the draft existed, but in a response to enquiries by the New Statesmen in November 2006, the Foreign Office stated it had “no plans to release the draft pending the outcome of the case before the Information Commissioner”.

John Kampfner (pictured), editor of the New Statesman, said: “The proposed changes are a step backwards, away from openness and accountability. “They would have a wholly negative effect on journalism and I am happy to support this petition to have them scrapped.”

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