The BBC on December 9, 1997, announced that British government plans for a freedom of information act "go further than many observers expected."
The Minister responsible, Dr. David Clark, was to unveil the plans on Thursday, December 11.
According to BBC sources, the plan would include "an independent commissioner who can force Government departments to release information which is requested." However, "information could be withheld if the commissioner believes it to be in the public interest," the BBC said.
The BBC's December 9 story, evidently based on unauthorized leaks, created an embarrassment for Public Service Minister Clark, who was forced to apologize to Parliament over the matter.
However, on December 11, Clark went ahead as expected. The BBC reported that "plans for an Independent Information Commissioner with powers to compel Whitehall to release files to the public are being officially unveiled.
"The paper foreshadows a Freedom of Information Act. This will ensure for the first time in law the right of the public to demand information from the Government. Civil Servants will be banned from evading their duties of disclosure by destroying official records," the BBC said.
Original file name: CNI - FOIA for UK.final
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