FoE in legal fight for access to lobby meeting info

Friends of the Earth (FoE) is pursuing legal action in an attempt to highlight heavy lobbying of the Government by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The environmental body is embroiled in a legal fight with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The case concerns a freedom of information request by FoE for access to records of meetings between the CBI and the Department for Trade and Industry (now BERR) immediately after the 2005 general election.

The information includes records of meetings between the secretary of state for trade and industry and Digby Jones, then CBI director general and now a minister at BERR.

The Information Commission ordered BERR to release the information to FoE. However, the Government has appealed to the Information Tribunal to overturn that decision.

FoE director Tony Juniper said the charity wanted to highlight 'the influence that major lobby groups can have on government decision-making'. The results of the hearing are expected to be published in four to eight weeks' time.

- Friends of the Earth is one of a number of charities supporting the newly formed Alliance for Lobbying Transparency. The alliance is calling for 'a mandatory system that requires disclosure of all lobbyists' activities above a minimum threshold'.

Other bodies involved include Greenpeace, Action Aid, the World Development Movement and the National Union of Journalists.

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