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BSE secrecy highlights 'poor' FoI Bill

The inadequacy of the Government’s Freedom of Information Bill has been highlighted by the findings of the BSE inquiry, according to the Campaign for the Freedom of Information.

The Campaign claims public safety would continue to be put at risk because of the flawed legislation.

The secrecy at the heart of the BSE crisis was also highlighted by the Nottingham Evening Post, which showed the public’s right to know would not be improved unless the Bill was rewritten.

CFoI director Maurice Frankel said: “Tony Blair promised to sweep away the secrecy that prevented people learning about BSE. But his Freedom of Information Bill would allow information about future health hazards to be suppressed.”

Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell said: “The message from the BSE report is crystal clear.

“The culture of secrecy in public life is dangerous for the public and for Government itself. There could not be a better example to support the campaign to improve the Bill.”

“The Evening Post has campaigned long and hard about secrecy finding a range of stories to show how their readers are kept in the dark.

“Other papers should follow suit if we are to raise awareness among the public. Only then will ministers realise that the failings of their FoI Bill could cost them votes.”

The Post’s articles were particularly relevant because an afflicted baby who got vCJD from her mother is in its circulation area.

The Post’s Opinion column said: “How starkly the whole tragic BSE mess demonstrates the absolute need for a Freedom of Information Act with teeth. What will it take to make the politicians heed?”

More information on secrecy and freedom of information can be read at

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