Feeds

Legal blow to secret government lobbying

Government told 'show us the menus'

Security for virtualized datacentres

The Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has lost an appeal to keep secret its meetings with business lobbying group the Confederation of British Industry.

The case has dragged on for three years and originally concerned secret meetings between the CBI and BERR, which was formerly known as the Department of Trade and Industry.

Friends of the Earth asked for information about a series of meetings between Digby Jones, then boss of the CBI and Alan Johnson, DTI minister, as well as a corporate jolly for senior civil servants and CBI staff. Last year the Information Commissioner ordered the DTI to release most of the information requested.

But BERR, including Minister of State for Trade and Investment Digby Lord Jones of Birmingham - previously known as Digby Jones, boss of the CBI - appealed the decision to the Information Tribunal.

The Tribunal ruled yesterday that most of the information requested by FoE should indeed be released.

Phil Michaels, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said: "The Tribunal has recognised the strong public interest in members of the public having access to lobbying records and has recognised that transparency is particularly important where a group like the CBI has privileged access to Government to push their views. It is crucial that the Government now changes its outmoded culture of secrecy."

A spokesman for BERR said: "We believe that there are circumstances where it is in the public interest to protect the 'thinking space' necessary for good public policy formulation and to enable the Department to have a private discourse with external organisations."

The judgement reads in part: "In our view, there is a strong public interest in understanding how lobbyists, particularly those given privileged access, are attempting to influence government so that other supporting or counterbalancing views can be put to government to help ministers and civil servants make best policy. Also there is a strong public interest in ensuring that there is not, and it is seen that there is not, any impropriety."

BERR claimed that making such meetings public would have a chilling effect on meetings between it and lobby groups. The Tribunal said it viewed such possible effects with sceptism.

BERR has 28 days to comply with the ruling or to take an appeal to the High Court.

The full judgement is available as a 44 page pdf from here.

The victory is a big filip for the wider movement, led by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, to force the UK government to introduce more transparency into its dealings with lobbying groups. ALT is calling for compulsory registration of lobby groups and a record of their meetings with politicians and civil servants. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
FAIL.GOV – Government asks Dropbox for accounts that don't exist
Storage locker's transparency report shows rise in government data gobble attempts
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.