Labour issuing more gagging orders than the Tories

The Guardian reports that:

Ministers in Tony Blair’s government have issued more official gagging orders than the previous Conservative government, figures show.

The rise in the controversial orders – which keep secret Whitehall documents in court cases – has occurred despite official assurances that their use would be curtailed.

Ministers signed 100 public interest immunity certificates (PIIs) in the five full years since Mr Blair came to power in 1997, compared with 70 under the previous five years of the Tory government.

The figures have been collated from lists of orders obtained during an investigation by the BBC’s File on Four programme, which will be broadcast tonight on Radio 4.

Rules introduced in the wake of the arms-to-Iraq affair in the mid-1990s were supposed to reduce the volume of such orders.

While in opposition, Labour made political capital by criticising Conservative ministers for exploiting gagging orders to suppress politically embarrassing evidence. Sir Richard Scott, during his inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair, delivered a scathing attack on the abuse of such certificates.

So much for their commitment to freedom of information and open government.

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