Press case could make it easier to access files

York Press: Press case could make it easier to access files Press case could make it easier to access files

FURTHER secret Government papers could be made public thanks to the ruling in The Press’s case, an expert has said.

The decision of the Upper Tribunal judge will make it easier for anyone seeking documents aged 20 to 30 years old, said Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

That could include papers relating to incidents such as the Lockerbie bombing, the Piper Alpha and Hillsborough disasters, the Herald of Free Enterprise sinking, the miners’ strikes, the 1991 Gulf War and the events around Black Wednesday in 1992, when Britain was forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

The Government has ruled that the historic 30-year-rule should be cut by ten years. It is phasing in the change for practical reasons, but having accepted the principle that 20 years is long enough, it will be easier for others to seek early release of certain documents, said Mr Frankel.

Mr Frankel praised The Press's perseverance in the Nestlé-Rowntree case and said he could not recall another case of the Cabinet Office fighting for so long before backing down.

He said: “It’s a credit to the newspaper. It does show how effective the Act can be if you are prepared to persevere but also what problems people may face.”

He said the ruling would not force the Government to release other papers, but said: “It does make it significantly harder for them to withhold high-level policy advice once it has reached 20 years.”

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