Documents unearthed by openDemocracy show that Whitehall departments have previously been told to seek advice from the Clearing House for FOI requests from “news media, MPs, organised campaigns and groups”.
However, Smith claimed: “All FOI requests are treated exactly the same, regardless of the identity or occupation of the requester.”
She said the Cabinet Office would review the practices of the Clearing House under “successive administrations”, having first been established in 2005. It will “provide any recommendations for improvement and further guidance”, although it is yet to be announced who will be leading the review.
Dr Ben Worthy of Birkbeck College, who wrote a book about the impact of FOI, said: “I hope the review will be transparent and open, and will shed more light on what the Clearing House does, as it's the lack of information about the Clearing House and what it actually does that has hampered past investigations.”
The Cabinet Office declined to comment further.
CommentsWe encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.