Andrew Lownie

Access Denied

Documents are the lifeblood of historians: they provide the bricks to build our understanding of the past. Making government records publicly available is an essential part of any democracy. However, the means by which researchers gain access to many documents, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is being systematically undermined. The government claims that it is costly to administer and limits the work of ministerial departments. The Freedom of Information Commission, appointed last year by the government to review the FOIA’s workings,  recently rejected a proposal to charge for requests. Nevertheless, the implementation of the act leaves a lot to be desired.

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