Monday, July 10, 2006

A transparent abuse of power

Well now. It's 16:45 on Monday 10th July and the documents over which Gareth Buttrill of HM Treasury Solicitors (strapline 'Law at the Heart of Government') claims Crown Copyright and has ordered removed under pain of a High Court action by 16:00 today, are still available on Craig Murray's web site.

So it looks like we are in for a court case seeking damages for publication of the documents without HM government permission. It should be interesting because these are the self-same documents that HMG initially claimed were false/forgeries; then tried to suppress under the Official Secrets Act; then released under the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act; and now, on the face of it, have decided are not to be disclosed after all. Amazing!

As Craig Murray himself put it in a comment on his blog:

"The provision to retain copyright under the Data protection Act and Freedom of Information Act was designed to protect the government's revenue interest. Was it the intention of the Freedom of Information Act that information divulged should be solely for the specific individual who requests it, and not for the public at large? No, plainly it was not the intention. The government is seeking to abuse the copyright provision to obtain a power to arbitrarily suppress information for political purposes. There is no excuse in this case because there is no revenue - the documents are freely available on the web. Nor are they seeking to protect their own revenue stream - they want to suppress the documents, not to publish them. So the question to ask is not does the government have the power to do this, but, in doing this are they abusing that power?"

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