Sympathetic Stupid

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Right to... no?

I reckon this decision kinda sucks:

Court upholds ban on release of tax papers

Freedom Of Information legislation should mean that the public has a right to know what's going on in our government, and we can ask for that information at any time, for no good reason. Of course, in practice it's never quite that simple, as it can be a slow process getting anything out of a bureaucracy (don't try spelling that on without a good run-up).

Well, the decision outlined above makes it a shedload harder:

Judges Brian Tamberlin and Peter Jacobson found that all the Government needed to block access, once a certificate was issued, was for a senior public servant to give evidence that there was a good reason why the documents should not be released. They also found that when a senior public servant gave evidence there was one public interest ground not to release the documents it would not matter what other strong grounds existed in support of releasing documents.

So, in my understanding, if a hypothetical government wanted to keep completely innocuous, or possibly damaging, information from its loyal citizens, all it would have to do is have a single public servant willing to stretch the truth a little.

Sounds unlikely.

Is there any point ever making a FOI request, then?