Saturday, 17 September 2011

Canadian radio broadcast starring Gerard Hastings and the Information Commissioner

Via Bishop Hill comes this link to an interview with Gerard Hastings from Stirling University, defending his case against Philip Morris, and Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion.

Edit: A permanent link to the interview is available here:

Professor Hastings makes the point that the studies in question are paid for, not publicly, but by 'a cancer charity', a somewhat cunning disguise for Cancer Research UK. One only needs to read CRUK's research preferences to understand that Philip Morris has clear grounds to assume that Cancer Research is prejudiced against its corporate interests. Professor Hastings may correct in thinking that charity-funded research should not have to comply with Freedom of Information requests – but charities that fund research should not announce their intentions to influence government policy prejudicially against the interests of specific industries. If Government chooses to outsource research to the third sector or universities it shouldn't expect to escape accountability.

After listening to Professor Hastings, listening to the Information Commissioner brings one down to earth. He is clear that the University has not understood the implications of FOI, because of Hastings' insistence that assuring his subjects of confidentiality would automatically exempt him from complying with the requirements of the law. He reiterated that he had ordered the University to provide a substantive response to the FOI request – not necessarily to provide the information requested, but otherwise to give adequate reasons for not supplying it.

Any result will be subject to appeal and could take several months.


Anonymous said...

More proof that Stirling's data wouldn't stand light of day and won't be able to support the fore-gone conclusion reached before the study was even performed, thus the stall. It's only data for God's sake.

Smoking Hot said...

The IC in my mind has already made up his mind and in effect instructed Stirling to refuse releasing the info on the grounds of cost.