OpenDemocracy: Gove Heads Orwellian Cabinet Unit Denying FOI Requests

Help us retain the right to have Freedom Of Information requests honoured according to law

Jason Evans was just four when his father died after receiving HIV-infected NHS blood: a scandal which cost thousands of lives.

In 2018 Jason asked, under Freedom of Information laws, to see an official report on the infected blood failures that killed his father. But the secretive Cabinet Office ‘Clearing House’ blocked its release.

This ‘Orwellian’ unit run by Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office claims to only advise on how to handle FOI requests – but we’ve exposed how they’re profiling journalists and hiding ‘sensitive’ information.

We’re not going to let this lie. More than 15,000 people have backed our call to end this; now we’re taking the government to court, piling pressure on MPs and telling more stories like Jason’s. Can you make a donation so we can keep going?

Freedom of Information is vital for a functional democracy: we have a right to know what our government is up to. As Jason put it: “Slowly but surely, I believe we are piecing together one of the biggest UK cover-ups to have taken place in a generation.” 

Yet throughout the pandemic, Boris Johnson’s government has dodged questions, blacklisted journalists and refused to release vital information.

We’re not letting this go. Our leaders should be accountable to us, the public; not their donors and allies.

With your help we can:

  • Work with lawyers on our legal bid for Freedom of Information transparency in the courts
  • Pay journalists to investigate Whitehall secrecy and how Gove’s ‘Orwellian’ Clearing House unit operates
  • Build a coalition of people like you who care about our information rights – so that together we can fight further threats

Can you donate today to help us hold the government accountable?

It’s difficult and painstaking work to investigate and prepare for a legal challenge – but we’ve won before and we’re determined to win again.

In June when the government refused to release details of the NHS data sharing agreements with Big Tech, we threatened to sue and they caved at the last minute. Following our reporting, they were forced to change the contracts so these controversial firms couldn’t profit from our health data in a crisis.

With your support, we can win again and force the most secretive government in recent years to be accountable for their actions.

Thank you so much for whatever you can contribute really does make a difference.


Mary Fitzgerald,
Editor-in-Chief, openDemocracy

P.S. The team behind this investigation will be discussing it live on Thursday 10 December, 5pm UK time. Sign up to watch here. (Don’t worry – if you miss the live discussion, we’ll  put a recording up on our YouTube channel as soon as we can.)

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