Editors are being asked to write to their own MPs and those in their newspaper’s circulation areas to fight proposals to restrict the Act.
The campaign was announced by incoming SoE president Nick Turner, left, during a conference session on FoI today.
Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said the commission looking into the Act was considering introducing charges for FoI requests.
Said Nick: “This would be a cynical and, indeed, dangerous backward step in the long fight for greater openness and transparency.
“If MPs really want to serve their constituents, they will support this campaign to maintain the tremendous work of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.
“The fact that Maurice Frankel and the Campaign are still in business a decade after the Act came into force demonstrates the need for all those who believe the public have a right to know what is done in in their name and with their money, to join this vital battle.”
HoldtheFrontPage publisher Paul Linford added: “The Freedom of Information Act has become an essential tool for journalists on local and regional newspapers and HoldtheFrontPage is pleased to give its backing to this campaign.
“Charging for FoI requests would add to the burdens on local newspapers at a time when the government is purportedly trying to find ways to help the industry. It must be resisted.”
Maurice told the conference that in Ireland, the introduction of FoI fees choked requests down to 25pc of previous level.
“Now, that’s what I call a chilling effectm,” he said
Jason Collie, formerly of the Oxford Mail and now of the London Evening Standard, said many organisations, not just police, routinely use the FoI Act as a ‘tool of obstruction’ by asking journalists to submit FoI requests to answer straightforward questions.
A committee of former politicians set up to look at possible changes to the Act includes former Home Secretary Jack Straw, who introduced the Act but has since described it as a mistake.