We’ve written a long piece in the main FT this morning about the widespread attempts in Whitehall to avoid FOI requests – by civil servants as well as special advisers. Texts, private email addresses, more phone calls, and inserting *s in the middle of key words are among the popular methods.
One anecdote didn’t make it into the newspaper and it seemed worth repeating:
Late last year ahead of the Pope’s visit to London, officials in the Foreign Office used text messages to tell officials in the Greater London Authority that they would prefer Boris Johnson not to shake the hand of the distinguished visitor – although their attempts failed. ‘You can see how they would not have wanted that conversation to have been FOI-able’, says one person who saw the messages.
The mystery is why anyone would want to stop this particular photo-call – my mole has no idea.