Freedom of Information: Former Labour Home Secretary branded “establishment stooge”

“The Labour Party has turned on its former Home Secretary Jack Straw, accusing him of conniving with the Tories to dismantle the Freedom of Information Act.

Party sources told The Independent that Mr Straw had been asked not to join a committee set up last month by the Cabinet Office to review the workings of the Act. The party fears that the committee will be used by the Tories as cover to restrict what information can be released under the Act and make it harder for the Opposition to scrutinise the work of the Government.

At the time it was launched, the Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock insisted the review had cross-party support with Labour being represented by Mr Straw and Lord Carlile representing the Liberal Democrats.

Labour denies this and revealed that the party’s shadow Justice Secretary, Lord Falconer, and acting leader, Harriet Harman, had made it clear to Mr Straw that they did not want him to serve on the committee. However, Mr Straw is said to have insisted he was going to take part anyway – even if it meant doing so in a “personal capacity”. This has angered a number of Shadow Cabinet members who have accused Mr Straw of acting as an “Establishment stooge”. “It was made very clear to Jack that it was not a great thing for him to do and that it would be much better if he did not participate,” said a senior Labour source.”