Sunday, 18 May 2008

Fortuitous circumstance of the day

Some of Tony Blair’s expenses claims, which the High Court last week ruled should be disclosed to the public, have been shredded. The documents, itemising Blair’s claims for household expenses during a year of his premiership, were destroyed in the midst of a legal battle over whether they should be published. All MPs’ expenses are funded by taxpayers.

It is a criminal offence to destroy documents to prevent their disclosure under freedom of information (FOI) laws, but Westminster officials say they were unaware that the files were the subject of a legal challenge. They insist they were destroyed by mistake.

They didn't realise that the files were the subject of a legal challenge? Do civil servants not read newspapers?

...some of Blair’s files covering claims for Myrobella, his constituency home, were destroyed by Commons officials after they rejected The Sunday Times’s FOI request in January 2005 to see his claims for £43,029 of public money covering a three-year period.

"After...January 2005" isn't particularly clear. It would be nice to know at what precise point in the last forty months the files were shredded. After all, the closer in time the shredding was to the order that the files be released to the public, the greater the likelihood that this was not just a mindless blunder.

Norman Baker, who has campaigned for more transparency in his fellow MPs’ expenses, said: “How convenient that some of Tony Blair’s expenses have been shredded. This is either incompetence or obstruction of the Freedom of Information Act and should be properly investigated.”

"How convenient" indeed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The shredding of Blair's expenses claims is a calculated blunder.