Scotland's Freedom of Information warning to government

The Scottish Information Commissioner has warned that if the British Government goes ahead with its proposals to limit the FoI Act in England and Wales there will then be “clear blue water” between Government policy and rules in Scotland, where any changes will not apply.

Kevin Dunion (right) told Press Gazette the Act was put there to help journalists and that no one would benefit from curbing their rights of access to official information.

“We cannot be surprised that journalists are using this legislation… a lot of very, very good stories [obtained through the Act] have been run in Scotland,” he said.

“You could say the press used it as a play thing in the early stages and to get easy hits. But now journalists are being more forensic about it and there have been some cracking stories.

They are using it as a tool rather than a story in itself – that’s precisely what the press is there to do, shine a light onto Scotland in a way that official statistics don’t do. That’s the whole point of the Act, openness and transparency.”

Dunion released his annual report on Thursday last week, revealing that his office dealt with 511 appeals last year, compared with 550 in 2005, the equivalent of more than double the number of appeals his British counterpart Richard Thomas deals with annually.

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