Executive pushback goes global
It's not only in Britain that freedom of information has been facing a backlash from governments.
Last night I attended a seminar given by Patrick Whelan, Director General of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Ireland. His presentation, given to the Constitution Unit at University College London, showed how the level of freedom of information requests in Ireland has zoomed downwards after the introduction of upfront fees for making a request.
In 2003 the Irish government introduced a fee of 15 Euros for making a request for non-personal information, along with some other changes that curtailed FOI. Requests to Irish public bodies for non-personal information have since fallen by over 50 per cent - from 7,936 in 2002 to 3,449 in 2006.
And earlier this week the Associated Press reported that over a million pages of US government documents have been removed from public access since September 2001.
So is it because FOI is working badly - or because it's working well?
UPDATE: But it's now a different picture in Scotland, as announced today by the Scottish Executive.