Freedom of Information headlines/roundup from the week ending 16th November 2012.

UK Freedom of information headlines – week ending 16th November

A round up of all the most important Freedom of Information news, and best uses for the week ending 16th November 2012. Brought to you by @FOIdirectory. Follow us on Twitter for updates and news about FOI, plus a brand new website coming soon.

Storified by FOI Directory · Fri, Nov 16 2012 09:42:04

I have to start this week’s round-up with one particular story. There’s not much way of avoiding it. 
Newcastle NHS sent a private email talking about rejecting a FOI request and the reasons they were going to use to a journalist, even worse for them it was a journalist on a national newspaper. 
The staff at the NHS said: 

“The first employee then clarifies: “Can we say that our Strategy is commercially sensitive and refuse to disclose?”

She was then told it could be exempt, with her fellow NHS worker suggesting she points the applicant in the direction of historic public data instead.

“It would at least make us look slightly helpful,” he conceded.

NHS staff discuss rejecting FOI request in leaked email – TelegraphUnder Freedom of Information laws, public sector bodies can claim information should remain secret if its release would release "trade se…
Taking a closer look at the article and what has been said it looks very much like a conversation about disclosing information rather than the deliberate attempt to withhold what has been asked for. 
Jon Baines (@bainesy1969) has followed up to the article with a reply about the internal discussions which take place around FOI requests. 
Internal AffairsNovember 14, 2012 · 8:17 am Has an NHS Trust tried wrongly to prevent publication of information under FOI? Or are they just perhaps (nai…
Next up we have the news that £500m of taxpayers’ money has been used to send the children of government officials to schools. 
The article states the Foreign Office spent £27million for 717 children of diplomats last year. 
However the importance of context when looking at FOI figures becomes apparent with the quote at the end of the article. 

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “Where staff cannot or choose not to take their children overseas, we contribute towards the costs of boarding schools in the UK for children up to the age of 18, provided officers meet specific eligibility criteria.

“In some countries we do not permit staff to take their children for security reasons. In others, local schools of an acceptable standard are not available.”

So the money is probably better spent than putting a child’s life at risk. 

Taxpayers spend £500m to send top Government’s officials kids to posh public schoolsA Mirror investigation can reveal highly-paid civil servants are getting a £26,000-a-year perk towards expensive education
It’s open knowledge that the lines on the floor of the House of Commons, between the benches, are the distance of a fully drawn sword apart, this was to protect MPs if any fights broke out between them. 
Luckily nowadays it would be almost impossible to get a sword into the HoC, although it doesn’t seem to stop people trying. 
In total a Freedom of Information request found over 400 knives, 3 fake guns, a sword and more have been attempted to be smuggled into the House of Commons. 
Deadly weapons find at CommonsCOPS guarding the Houses of Parliament have seized a huge arsenal of deadly weapons from visitors, The Sun can reveal. Police have confis…
A Freedom of Information request this week revealed that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has spent £1.5m on flights around the world. 
£250,000 of the trips were on domestic flights. 
Decc ‘spends £1.5m on flights’As well as tickets to far flung locations, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) team regularly booked seats between London …
And finally, on a lighter note… or maybe not. 
Firefighters in Wales have been called out to more than 2,700 times to incidents helping obese people move. 
Fire services count obesity costUK fire and rescue services have responded to over 2,700 calls over the past five years to assist severely obese people. A single inciden…
Thanks to everyone who is following on Twitter, if you’re not here’s a link to the profile. 
Eight Suffolk police officers quit before gross misconduct hearings, #FOI reveals. (via @bbcnews)FOI Directory

I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare since ever since.