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NMA urges government against ‘retreat into official secrecy’

David-Higgerson-Pic-e14180431184192The News Media Association has joined calls for the government not to tamper with the Freedom of Information Act.

Last week David Higgerson, Trinity Mirror’s digital publishing director, attacked the new Commission on Freedom of Information as an “all out assault on the public’s right to know”.

The commission has been set up to review the Freedom of Information Act and consider whether it offers an appropriate public interest balance between transparency, accountability and the need to protect sensitive information.

Now the NMA has warned the 10th anniversary of the Act’s introduction into law must not be marked by a “retreat into official secrecy”.

Santha Rasaiah, the organisation’s legal policy and regulatory affairs director, said: “The Government must not cut away the public right to know. The Freedom of Information Act requires extension, not restriction.

“It already allows a space for frank policy advice, prevents vexatious use and avoids onerous costs burdens.

“We must not allow the Act’s tenth anniversary to be marked by an attack upon the Act and a retreat into official secrecy.”

The Cabinet Office says the commission will consider the balance between the need to maintain public access to information, the burden of the Act on public authorities and whether change is needed to moderate that while maintaining public access to information.