Press Gazette backs campaign telling Government: Hands off FoI

Press Gazette is backing a campaign to stop the Government placing new controls on the Freedom of Information Act.

The Hands Off FoI campaign was launched at the Society of Editors conference in London today by the Society working in conjunction with Press Gazette and Holdthefrontpage.

It follows the creation of a Government commission which is currently mulling new charges for FoI requests and new controls to protect internal discussions conducted by local authorities and central government.

The Hands Off FoI campaign asks editors to write to their own MPs and fight proposals that would water down the Act.

Editors have also been urged to come forward with evidence of where they have used FoI effectively in order to make the case against watering down the act.

Nick Turner, the new president of the Society of Editors, said: "This would be a cynical and, indeed, dangerous backward step in the long fight for greater openness and transparency.

"If MPs really want to serve their constituents, they will support this campaign to maintain the tremendous work of the Campaign for Freedom of Information. 

"The fact that Maurice Frankel and the Campaign are still in business a decade after the Act came into force demonstrates the need for all those who believe the public have a right to know what is done in in their name and with their money, to join this vital battle."

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford said: “FoI is a vital tool for journalists but it is also far too weak as it stands. The FoI commission seems intent on seriously weakening the act dealing a blow to the public's right to know.

“This is not about saving money, or reducing the 'burden' on local authorities as has been suggested. It is about turning the clock back and putting us back in the dark.

“That's why Press Gazette will be fighting against what appears to be a government plot to water down FoI.”

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