Changes will not be rushed, says Ashton

Constitutional Affairs minister Baroness Ashton this week assured top editors that proposed changes to Freedom of Information legislation will not be rushed through.

She met Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell, Manchester Evening News editor and Society president Paul Horrocks, Daily Mail managing editor Robin Esser and Simon Bucks, associate editor at Sky News, on Tuesday.

Satchwell said: "It was a very constructive meeting, although there was no move away from the basic point that they want to make the proposed changes. What was valuable was that Ashton expanded on the points she made to Press Gazette on the changes not being rushed through."

In Press Gazette on 2 February, Baroness Ashton assured that the proposed changes to FoI legislation would not be made on 19 March, just 11 days after the end of the consultation period.

Previously, the Government had indicated that this would be the case.

Satchwell said: "She said that when the consultation closed on 8 March she will have three months to respond to it.

"We pointed out the huge amount of opposition to the changes as reported in Press Gazette and in newspapers across the country.

"We reiterated the fact that she told us she wants to make the FoI Act better and more efficient.

"While we recognise that there may be some problems with a tiny minority of requesters, we told her that the Government's proposals would take us back to the dark ages of secrecy, suspicion and mistrust that we had before the act."

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