Sir Jeremy was nicknamed ‘Sir Cover-Up’ for his role in blocking the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War
- Sir Jeremy Heywood claimed FoI Act makes officials ‘less candid’ with MPs
- The act helped expose MPs’ expenses scandals and other state revelations
- Sir Jeremy, the Cabinet Secretary, was nicknamed ‘Sir Cover-Up’
- He blocked the Chilcot Inquiry from seeing Bush and Blair correspondence
The most senior civil servant has argued for new restrictions on a law used to expose government waste and incompetence.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood claimed the Freedom of Information Act was making officials ‘less candid’ with ministers in their advice – for fear it would be made public.
Sir Jeremy was nicknamed ‘Sir Cover-Up’ for his role in blocking the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War from seeing letters and records of phone calls between Tony Blair and George Bush.
Yesterday he argued there were ‘one or two issues’ with the FoI law, which helped expose the MPs’ expenses scandals and dozens of other revelations about the activities of the state.
Sir Jeremy also told MPs he had concerns about whether the veto power of ministers to block the publication of information worked.
A panel including former ministers and civil servants is to review the Act. Sir Jeremy said those on the panel were ‘independent’.
But Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: ‘Independent normally means open minded. They have come to people who have served in government whose interests are very clearly those of the government.’
The review’s terms of reference include the question of whether the Act is a burden on public authorities, raising fears that ministers will make it easier for councils, quangos and government departments to reject requests.