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BBC at the Tribunal

Martin Rosenbaum | 18:18 UK time, Wednesday, 20 December 2006

As is pointed out from time to time by commenters on this blog, the BBC itself doesn't always respond to FOI requesters by sending them all the information they have asked for.

Some people think that this means I am guilty of breath-taking hypocrisy. My point of view is that no public authority subject to FOI is bound to release everything it's asked for, and it would be bizarre to argue that just because the BBC gets FOI requests it should be disbarred from making any.

Be that as it may, the BBC has been involved in an interesting case today at the Information Tribunal. The BBC has declined to reveal the minutes of the Governors meeting in January 2004 which ended Greg Dyke's position as Director-General of the BBC in the wake of the Hutton Report.

The Information Commissioner backed the BBC in this stance, and the case has been appealed to the Tribunal by the Guardian and the open government campaigner Heather Brooke, both of whom had put an FOI request for the minutes to the BBC. Their appeal is supported by Greg Dyke.

Since June 2005 the BBC has made public the minutes of Governors meetings, while redacting those parts of them which it feels must remain confidential.

It will be several weeks before the Tribunal announces whether it thinks the minutes of the January 2004 meeting should join them in the public domain.

UPDATE (Thursday): In my copy of today's Guardian, page 2 told me that I could read about the case on page 13, but when I reached page 13 it wasn't there. It looks like the story got dropped after the earlier editions. But if you're interested in the Guardian's account of yesterday's proceedings (and it reflects both sides of the story), you can still read it here.

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The BBC is the voice of freedom in a sea of totalitarianism. More power to the BBC.

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