Private Eye Freedom of Information Request Turned Down as ‘Vexatious’

As most readers of this blog probably, Mike over at Vox Political and very many other disability activists have been trying to get the government to release the full figures for the numbers of disabled and chronically sick people, who’ve died after being declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS and now Maximus. The DWP has been fighting their requests all the way. They have repeatedly turned them down as vexatious, stonewalled and dragged their heels, and then twisted the terms of the request so as to avoid supplying the information the sense of the request demanded. Mike and the others have persisted through this disgraceful process, launching appeal after appeal. This government under the Gentleman Ranker is determined to keep the figures of the people it has killed through its surreptitious eugenics cleansing under the guise of welfare to work.

And Mike and the disabled are very definitely not the only people to have their reasonable requests for information under the terms of ‘open government’ turned down. One of them is Private Eye. In recent months, the Eye has been concerned about the vast amounts of British land that is formally held by offshore companies, who pay no tax. They have built up an alarming picture of just how much is owned through requests made to the Land Registry under the Freedom of Information Act. Now they have hit the same wall as Mike and the others. Their requests for information have been turned down as ‘vexatious’.

The Eye describes their attempts to get the information, and the brush off they have received from the Land Registry. They write

As reported in Eye 1402, it [the Land registry] has refused our request for information on the thousands more properties bought by offshore companies since 2014, claiming the request is “vexatious” and the information is “reasonably accessible” by other means” – despite the “other means” being thousands of individual requests at £11 a time and demanding an army of supporting anoraks.

The Land Registry has also refused on the grounds that the information is Crown Copyright, and so exempt from the regulations. The Eye has then pointed out that as this would have made all information collected by the Civil Service exempt from FOI requests, that legal loophole has been ended. Like Mike and the disabled lobbyists, the Eye has launched an appeal to the Information Commissioner. But they state that if the Registry’s refusal is upheld, then Cameron’s professed commitment to open up government information to the public ‘will be so much hot air’.

See the Eye’s article, ‘Freedom of Information: Open Contempt’ in their Christmas issue, 19th December -7th January, page 39.

I wish the Eye all the best, but I think they will find Cameron’s promise exactly so much hot air. Cameron is a natural authoritarian and aristocratic elitist, who instinctively distrusts the proles and looks back to the glory days of the pre-1832 Reform Act. His ideal is an England where the proles meekly accept their station at the bottom of the social pile and touch their forelock to their masters and betters. Where he does support freedom of information, it’s purely to benefit business, not individuals.

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