Arms firms plan to thwart disclosure law

An article in the Guardian on Christmas eve highlighted several recent incidents where the government has backed down from requiring public authorities to reject broad confidentiality agreements.

The Ministry of Defense has written to arms firms promising them a virtual veto, according the article. And the code of practice on implementing the law, which urged civil servants to reject confidentiality agreements, was re-written at the last minute after intense lobbying from the MoD on behalf of arms firms.

Arms firms plan to thwart disclosure law
David Leigh, David Hencke and Rob Evans
Friday December 24, 2004

Arms manufacturers and other companies are seeking to frustrate Britain’s freedom of information act.

They plan to write legally enforceable confidentiality agreements into their dealings with Whitehall and are preparing “injunction packages” with which to threaten officials.

This will have the effect of bypassing the legislative machinery, and knocking a large hole in the act.

The Ministry of Defence wrote to arms firms this month, promising them a virtual veto and “the opportunity to seek a legal remedy” before files are disclosed. The government has also bowed to commercial pressures by deleting guidance to officials.
Full article here…

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