Journalists have been urged to respond within the next two weeks to the Government’s second consultation on proposals to water down the Freedom of Information Act.
A first consultation on the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Regulations 2007 finished on 8 March and prompted a massive backlash from journalists across the country.
Nearly every national and regional daily newspaper editor signed Press Gazette’s Don’t Kill FoI petition opposing the moves.
The opposition prompted the Government to start a new consultation on the change, which ends on 21 June. The proposed changes would greatly increase the number of FoI requests rejected out of hand by public authorities for exceeding the cost limit
Society of Editors chairman Bob Satchwell said: ‘It’s important that we re-emphasise how strongly journalists feel about these issues and that we want them to think again.
‘There are hopeful signs that this will go away, but we mustn’t leave this to chance – it’s too important.”
Hopes have been raised that incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown – himself a member of the NUJ, who has pledged to uphold press freedom – will reject the proposals to weaken FoI when he takes up his new job at the end of this month.
Details of the consultation paper are available at www.dca.gov.uk.