From an article in The Guardian.
A minister apologised to parliament yesterday for telling MPs that 70 police officers were hurt during a climate change
protest, after the Guardian revealed that most of the injuries were
inflicted by insects or the heat. Vernon Coaker, the Home Office
minister, told MPs at Commons question time yesterday: "I was informed
that 70 police officers were hurt and naturally assumed that they had
been hurt in direct contact as a result of the protest. That clearly
wasn't the case and I apologise if that caused anybody to be misled."
apology followed a freedom of information request from the Liberal
Democrats, which showed that no officers in the £5.9m police operation
at Kingsnorth power station in Kent during August had been injured by protesters.
police records showed that their medical unit had dealt mostly with
toothache, diarrhoea, cut fingers and "possible bee stings".
Shane McCracken · 18th December 2008 at 3:13 pm
The important aspect of this story I think is that politicians and govt officials have to recognise that we DO have FOI and that they need to be able to communicate authentically and directly with people.
The culture of spin and being on message is still very strong, but as this story shows the message had best be grounded in truth or it will come horribly unstuck.
Joe Bloggs · 28th December 2008 at 12:36 am
A large gov funded health based website accepts posts rating hospitals. A FOI request was received asking how many were rejected, so the number was pulled out of the database. It was only some weeks later it turned out this was for a request from a minister who made a response about the issue in the commons. Unfortunately the number includes several hundred test comments made by the quality assurance testers and a large amount of spam which is simply gibberish. The numbers were of course pounced on by competing, commercial sites as an example of the government ‘censoring’ the publics opinion. And typically there’s no ‘right’ way of announcing this without implying the minister is an idiot for not specifying exactly what was wanted!