Freedom of Information headlines (week ending 19th October)

A round up of all the most important Freedom of Information news, and best uses for the week ending 19th October 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, Oct 19 2012 08:50:16

1. This week Prince Charles’ letters to ministers have come back to the top of the pile when their publication was blocked by the Attorney general. 
They were blocked because they could damage the future King’s ability to be king and because they shared his “most deeply held personal views and beliefs”. 
Attorney general blocks disclosure of Prince Charles letters to ministersThe government has blocked the disclosure of a set of confidential letters written by Prince Charles to ministers. Dominic Grieve, the at…
Thankfully the Guardian are set to challenge the veto. They are set to go to the high court to challenge on the grounds that the veto was unreasonable. Here’s hoping they win. 
2. House of Commons speaker John Bercow has stopped the publication of MPs’ expenses which would show if they were using public money to rent homes from each other.
The parliament standards authIpsa had been due to disclose the material in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. However, the process has now been put on hold in the wake of Mr Bercow’s intervention.
Bercow in expenses disclosure rowCommons Speaker John Bercow has been accused of trying to suppress details of MPs’ expenses that could show if they are using public mone…
3. A London council has no way of monitoring which councillors attend meetings despite them being recorded in the minutes. 
“The authority refused a request submitted by the Wimbledon Guardian under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act for a breakdown of figures to showcase councillor attendance records since the last election in May 2010.”
Councillor’s attendance goes unmonitoredCouncillor’s attendance goes unmonitored 10:10am Thursday 18th October 2012 in News By Stephanie Harrison Merton Council chief executive …
A council spokesperson said it would not be an “appropriate use of the council’s resources” to collate the information. 
Very accountable. 
4. A FOI revealed a council spends £5,220 a year to maintain a ‘graffiti-ridden public urinal’ underpass.
Sounds pleasant. 
Appeal to close Nailsea underpass – News – Weston MercuryCampaign to close underpass in Nailsea. Vicky Angear Friday, October 19, 2012 12:00 PM A FRESH appeal to close an underpass branded a ‘gr…
One of our top tweeted stories this week was the scaremongering over the cost of Freedom of Information act in Wales. 
Authorities said they were struggling with the increase in FOI requests. From 3,530 in 2005 to 9,304 last year. It must be pointed out the FOI act was introduced in 2005 so a rise of 3x in seven years isn’t that much.
FoI requests ‘strain on councils’Local authorities say they are struggling with the number of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests which have more than doubled since 200…
Not ‘that’ Mr Willets but Gary Willets from Llandudno Junction summed up the FOI act perfectly. 
“I think the more and more open these public bodies are, the less use will be made of the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr Willets sums it up perfectly. Disclose more information and be asked less questions. (story via @bbcnews) #FOI #opendata #opengovFOI Directory
And finally, you can give us a follow on Twitter @FOIdirectory for more FOI related stories throughout the week. 

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.