Labour asks FoI watchdog to probe report officials using WhatsApp to avoid rules

Written by Agnes Chambre on 27 April 2016 in News
News

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Louise Haigh says use of WhatsApp should either be "banned completely or brought under the FoI legislation"

Downing Street is facing criticism over a report that ministers and senior members of David Cameron’s team are using WhatsApp to formulate strategy for the EU referendum, potentially side-stepping Freedom of Information requests.

The encrypted messenger service is not subject to FoI laws and the group conversations will not be kept in historical records.

A government source told The Sun newspaper that the service was being used among Remain supporters “for planning and sharing news links”. ​


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“They did exactly the same before the election last year,” the source added.

The report has prompted shadow Cabinet Office minister Louise Haigh to write to the Information Commissioner, asking the watchdog to "urgently" investigate the claims and ensure the use of WhatsApp for official communications is "either banned completely or brought under the FoI legislation".

Haigh added: “This is yet one more example of the government’s attempts to avoid scrutiny and stop us knowing what’s happening with our taxpayers money.”

“Not only does this evade FOI but it could have implications for the 20 year rule of release of cabinet papers.”

A Number 10 source said: “This is the modern age, people communicate in variety of different ways.”

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Agnes Chambre
About the author

Agnes Chambre reports for CSW's dedicated political sister site, PoliticsHome.com

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Comments

Winston Smith (not verified)

Submitted on 27 April, 2016 - 13:33
A good example of fair and open government, where ministers' decisions are available for public scrutiny!

Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted on 27 April, 2016 - 20:23
Totally stupid. What about so called off the record conversations? Are they to be banned too? FOI is supposed to make things more free, not introduce more red tape

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