Freedom of Information requests from Daily Mail costing Britain £7million a year

Written by Andy Woolfoot

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

image for Freedom of Information requests from Daily Mail costing Britain £7million a year
"Sorry, no one is available to take your call, they're all putting Freedom of Information requests in at the moment."

FREEDOM of Information requests by the Daily Mail have cost British taxpayers up to £56million in the last eight years, figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act revealed this week.

The amount of Government researches employed solely to handle FoI requests has skyrocketed since the Freedom of Information Act was introduced in 2000.

An FoI request revealed this week that the Government now employs 435 researchers, mainly agency staff, to deal with the FoI requests it receives, at a cost of nearly £7million a year.

A Government source told the Mail on Sunday: "It's mostly the Daily Mail. Most papers put in requests once a week or when there's something topical.

"But the Daily Mail puts in dozens every day. Just this week our workers have been required to find out what cereal Alistair Darling eats in the morning and how many elected officials in the North East have ever been arrested for trespassing.

"It's ridiculous. Only about one out of every 100 requests ever make the damn paper."

The Daily Mail has led the way in creating headline-grabbing stories based on the FoI requests.
Old favourites of the paper are the year-on-year enquiries about the number of illegal immigrants coming to Britain, postcode lotteries on cancer treatment funding and how much Government-funded gypsy camps cost the taxpayers each year.

While many feel this kind of right-wing watchdoggery is essential from the press, Government researchers are being run off their feet trying to keep up.

"It's a constant battle for our workers," The Mail on Sunday's Government source continued. "They're all knackered and can't be arsed staying in their jobs any more.

"The Daily Mail even made a front page story after putting in an FoI request about how many crimes are solved annually by the new and much criticised Police Community Support Officers.
"It turned out it's once every six years. They went to town on that story even though everyone knows crime-solving is nothing to do with their jobs."

A receptionist for the Daily Mail said: "I'm sorry no one is available for comment as they are all putting Freedom of Information requests in at the moment."

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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