What’s this about? Meetings held by chief of UK’s worse than useless test and trace ‘system’ Dido Harding are censored but why? The cost grounds as a very poor excuse – there should be an easily accessible record of the meetings she’s attended. Has she not attended any meetings? Has she attended meetings at ridiculous, expensive locations breaking lockdown rules? There’s something embarrassing being hidden and any mate of Boris’s is likely to be seriously insane. I would guess at no meetings so that there was no effective leadership of UK’s chaotic test and trace ‘system’. It makes sense that it was(is) anarchic with nobody in charge.
The British government has been accused of running an ‘Orwellian’ unit in Michael Gove’s office that instructs Whitehall departments on how to respond to Freedom of Information requests and shares personal information about journalists, openDemocracy can reveal today.
Experts warn that the practice could be breaking the law – and openDemocracy is now working with the law firm Leigh Day on a legal bid to force Gove’s Cabinet Office to reveal full details of how its secretive ‘Clearing House’ unit operates.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests are supposed to be ‘applicant-blind’: meaning who makes the request should not matter. But it now emerges that government departments and non-departmental public bodies have been referring ‘sensitive’ FOI requests from journalists and researchers to the Clearing House in Gove’s department in a move described by a shadow cabinet minister as “blacklisting”.
This secretive FOI unit gives advice to other departments “to protect sensitive information”, and collates lists of journalists with details about their work. These lists have included journalists from openDemocracy, The Guardian, The Times, the BBC, and many more, as well as researchers from Privacy International and Big Brother Watch and elsewhere.