Royal secrets withheld under revised information rules
Sunday 14 June 2009
Members of the public and journalists will be banned from seeing the contents of secret documents on the Cabinet and Royal Family under measures quietly announced by Gordon Brown last week.
The Prime Minister's reforms on improving parliament contained a little-noticed plan to block Freedom of Information requests on Cabinet papers, even if there is a public interest case.
The blanket exemption, which will be seen as a retrograde step in access to information and transparency, also applies to documents relating to members of the Royal Family.
The publication of Cabinet papers and Royal Family documents are currently subject to a 30-year-rule. Anyone can use an FOI request, in the public interest, to ask for the documents to be published within those 30 years. Requests can be blocked by a ministerial veto – as was the case in the demand for Cabinet minutes of discussions in the run-up to the Iraq war. But FOI requests for Royal papers have been successful.
The change ends the public interest FOI option, however, and a blanket exemption is in place to "protect constitutional conventions".
A commission set up by Mr Brown and headed by Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre recommended reducing the current 30-year-rule to 15. Mr Brown has decided on a 20-year-rule, which was announced last week. All documents will be released under the 20-year-rule.
Graham Smith, of the anti-monarchy campaign Republic, said: "We have been successfully using freedom of information to raise questions about Royal use of public funds and resources and to question [Prince] Andrew's role as trade ambassador. It appears they would prefer to remain in secrecy, and that begs the question why?"
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he'd killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Michael Buerk wishes he'd killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral for mosque
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...