Sunday Telegraph team outline fears over FoI plans

Fourteen Sunday Telegraph journalists have written to Lord Falconer to outline their concerns about proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act.

The letter, written by home affairs correspondent Ben Leapman, stresses that the Government's plans would save the Exchequer just £900,000 of the £24.4m annual cost of FoI, but would severely restrict the ability of journalists to hold government to account.

The plans announced by the Department for Constitutional Affairs earlier this month would allow public bodies to "aggregate" multiple, unrelated FoI requests from news organisations, making it easier for public officials to turn away journalists' queries on cost grounds. "This curb would impact disproportionately on specialist correspondents who scrutinise the activities of particular Whitehall departments," the letter says, before expressing alarm that the proposals would "effectively prevent any newspaper from conducting a sustained campaign on any particular issue aimed at finding out, via FoI, a truth inconvenient to the government of the day".

Leapman said: "I hope other journalists will follow our lead and make their views known.

"One has to assume that the Government are being honest in saying that their aim is not a political thing to stop news stories coming out, but a genuine attempt to curb costs. I hope that when they look at it in those terms they will reconsider these proposals."

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