FOIMan profiles an early attempt to bring FOI to the UK – and finds parallels with today’s debates over the future of openness.

freedom-of-information-graphic-smallWith debate raging over the government’s FOI Commission, it seems timely to look at the troubled history of attempts to bring openness to UK government. My latest piece for PDP’s Freedom of Information Journal looks back nearly 40 years to see what befell a 1970s effort to bring FOI to our shores. It takes in official secrets, celebrities and the fall of a government (and rise of another), as well as some familiar civil service concerns. Freudian Slip: the FOI Act that never was can be accessed here.

One Comment

  1. Your article is actually not quite correct as section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 related to unauthorised disclosure of Government information and the Public Records Acts allowed the disclosure of most Government records after 50 years or a prescribed period know, in theory, now working its way down to 20 years, by transferring the files to the Public Record office, now The National Archives. I am surprised that you didn’t mention Dr David Owen’s programme of Open Government which did release some information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during his time as Foreign Secretary.

    I do think that it is unreasonable to expect Cabinet documents to be released after less than 20 years although Scotland releases its records after 15 years and some information on policies can be gleaned there.

    David Matthew

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