confidential_animationThe Campaign for Freedom of Information (“CFOI”) has an immediate and short term cash-flow problem. Despite its modest expenditure, CFOI needs to raise nearly £25,000 to ensure its survival through to the end of March 2014.  CFOI has launched an urgent appeal for funds, to which donations can be made online.  CFOI asks you to support it now.

Why you should care

CFOI is the UK’s leading voice promoting and defending freedom of information. It advises the public on using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, encourages good practice by public authorities, provides FOI training and works to improve how the Act works. You can read more about its work on its website – www.cfoi.org.uk

CFOI is well-known for its expertise in the field of FOI. The Hawktalk blog says this about it:

“The Campaign for Freedom of Information is an essential bulwark against a state that can be addicted to secrecy; it is a centre of excellence for FOI advice and consumer protection. If you are ever stuck, the Campaign is an accessible font of FOI knowledge.”

The author of the post explains why Hawktalk supports CFOI’s appeal for funds:

 “Why am I writing this? Well the Campaign for Freedom of Information is having financial troubles; without their amazing work there would be no Freedom of Information Act or FOISA [Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act], no Accessible Record and indeed no category (e) personal data that gives access to all the stuff which, but for category (e), there would be a huge data protection loophole.  It was the Campaign for Freedom of Information which during the Thatcher era lit the FOI torch. Its cross party approach to FOI was maintained, well argued and consistent. It took time, patience and two decades of persistence before the Campaign was ultimately successful. We cannot afford to let that torch be extinguished.”

Why we still need CFOI

Getting FOIA and FOISA onto the statute book was a step on the way – but not the end of the journey.

Maurice Frankel, Director of CFOI, reminds us of Tony Blair’s change of heart about FOI:  

“Shortly before he became Prime Minister, Tony Blair said:  “It is not some isolated constitutional reform that we are proposing with a Freedom of Information Act … It is a change that is actually fundamental to how we see politics developing in this country…there is still far too much addiction to secrecy and wish to conduct government business behind closed doors.” At that stage, he powerfully made the case for FOI legislation and praised the crucial role of CFOI in promoting it. But in 2010 – after his years as Prime Minister – Mr Blair took the diametrically opposite view and declared his earlier approach to be that of a “naïve…nincompoop”.

Of course, it was his earlier approach to FOI that was right: the FOI Act brought a fundamental – and much-needed – change into British politics. But what Mr Blair said in 2010 made an equally strong case – albeit unintentionally – for the continued need for the CFOI.

There will always be threats to an effective FOI law, and a risk that the jungle of secrecy will grow back.  The need for CFOI to help protect the right to know is still essential.”

Russell Levy, Head of Clinical Negligence at Leigh Day and a Board Member of CFOI said:

“The expertise and work of CFOI is unique. It would be bad news indeed for freedom of information if CFOI had to close for lack of funds. A strategic review is underway at CFOI, with help from supportive experts, with a view to putting in place a sound foundation for the longer term.  The challenge is for CFOI to survive for the next two months. To do so, it needs cash – and needs it now.  For CFOI to close – through lack of funds – would be a victory for those who celebrate secrecy.  We don’t want that to happen. It is critical that CFOI’s work should continue and that the voice of the organisation should be retained.”

Give if you can

Here is the link to the CFOI appeal page.  It’s already raised over £1,500 (for which CFOI thanks the donors) – but there’s some way to go.

Please give if you can.