RELEASE DATE: 21 November 2015
Government plans to water down the Freedom of Information Act and restrict its use by journalists have been condemned as a threat to investigative journalism.
The Chartered Institute of Journalists said the Government’s proposals were a blatant attempt to shut down embarrassing and difficult questions and were a clear threat to the public’s right to know.
President Paul Leighton said it was hard to believe that any Government which claimed to believe in Freedom of Speech could set out to reduce information about public bodies and government departments. “The Freedom of Information Act has blown a welcome gust of fresh air down the corridors of power and shone a light in some rather murky corners.”
“A government with nothing to hide should have no fears about the use of the FOI Act to put material in the public domain. Tax-payers have a right to know what they paid for and is done in their name”
And Leighton has urged members of the CIoJ to back the Press Gazette’s campaign against the Government plans by signing the petition against plan the Gazette has launched online.
He added “The Justice Secretary claims that journalists are misusing or abusing the FoI Act. He’s wrong; they’re using it as it was intended – to make the activities of government and public authorities open to public scrutiny.”
Note to Editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.