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Editors move on freedom of information

Editors are being urged to write letters to the Lord Chancellor about reports that the Freedom of Information Act might be delayed for several years.

Instead of phasing in the right of access to information from 2002, it is feared the legislation would be applied across the board from late 2004 or early 2005.

The Society of Editors believes this would have a particular effect on government departments, local authorities, the police and the NHS.

The society is urging all organisations affected by freedom of information issues to start changing the culture of secrecy to one of openness now – as though they were already covered by the legislation.

Society director Bob Satchwell said: “If editors from all sectors of the media write to the Lord Chancellor and report and comment on the proposed delays, we might make the government think twice about delaying.

“To paraphrase a suggestion a government minister once made to us, we should put our tanks on his lawn.”

The Society has sent out a suggested text to write to Lord Irvine, which speaks of its “dismay” at the news and reminds him how the Prime Minister described freedom of information as a cornerstone of constitutional reform.

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