Saturday, July 08, 2006

Freedom of Information? - You must be joking!

A little story involving Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett and Tony Blair's shiny new 'Freedom of Information Act'.

So you thought that the 'Freedom of Information Act' was the genuine article?

That it's title meant just that - FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ?

Well Forget it. It means nothing of the sort. Do you seriously think that this control-freak government of ours will allow itself to be embarrassed by its own files, even on the rare occasions that they are not deemed to be covered by an exemption? Of course they won't - not if they can help it anyway. Here is their latest little wheeze in frustrating the much vaunted purpose of their own legislation:

Craig Murray's Book "Murder in Samarkand" is an account of his experiences as British Amabassador to Uzbekistan from 2002-2004. For most of that time he tried to get his superiors in London to act on irrefutable evidence that the US financed Uzbek government of Islam Karimov routinely used the grossest forms of torture to extract information for supply to both the UK and US security services in their 'war on terror'. Among a litany of shameful and downright vicious attacks on his personal integrity for his embarrasing and inconvenient efforts, Jack Straw and the F&CO attempted to smear him with accusations that he supplied visas to young Uzbek women in exchange for sex. His refusal to be browbeaten or deflected led to him being recalled and effectively forced to resign. Jack Straw is on record with :
"Craig Murray has been a deep embarassment to the entire Foreign Office".
But embarrassed officialdom can never admit it is just plain wrong now can it? - even when it's own files scream the facts and have to be "released" under that shiny new act.

In order to document and properly reference the principal charges in his book, Craig Murray obtained a series of documents under the FOIA. He was nevertheless threatened with an unjunction by the F&CO preventing publication of the book if he included them. So, they were removed to enable its publication on 6th July. All that remains of the documents are references to their url's on his web site.

On Friday 7th July Craig Murray was informed by Solicitors acting for our new Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett that unless the documents were removed from the site by 4:00 pm Monday 10th July proceedings for copyright infringement would automatically commence in the High Court. So, here we have documents made available by HMG for 'Freedom of Information' purposes which cannot be made freely available under threat of ruinously expensive, publicly financed legal proceedings by that same HMG.

You just couldn't make this up could you?

The point of course is - and make no mistake about it - If you have the temerity to seriously embarass the State in the form of either its bureaucracies or its political masters, at the very least you will be hounded until you desist. To the extent that you become really effective, well, accidents can happen can't they?

See previous post for links to Craig Murray's web site and the F&CO legal threat.

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