How long must we let the government hide the facts about its dodgy deals behind ‘commercial sensitivity’?

A contractor walks inside Carillion’s Royal Liverpool Hospital site [Image: Reuters].

The critical Con (and I use the word with a capital letter for a reason) of hiring private companies to do government business rears its ugly head yet again.

We were told we couldn’t see the full impact assessments on Brexit because they were “commercially sensitive”. In fact, they didn’t exist.

We are told we cannot see information on the activities of privately-run public services, such as Atos, Capita and G4S, because they are commercially sensitive and are therefore exempt from examination under the Freedom of Information Act (S.43 exemption).

Undoubtedly there are other examples.

And we know the facts are being hidden from us because they would reflect badly on the companies and the government – that is why efforts to open companies with government contract up to public scrutiny have been rejected by the Tories.

What have they got to hide?

Tory ministers have been attacked for refusing to publish a report on doomed Carillion’s performance – because it’s “commercially sensitive”.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it commissioned an independent review into prison maintenance, millions of pounds of which was outsourced to the stricken giant, early last year.

The review was carried out after prisons minister Sam Gyimah said he was “not impressed” by Carillion’s maintenance work in September 2016 and the firm was sent a formal warning.

Despite the row, the firm went on to win another £40million in Ministry of Justice contracts last year – before collapsing leaving 20,000 jobs in the balance.

Yet ministers say the report – together with other reports on Carillion’s effectiveness including an “improvement plan” – will not be handed to the independent House of Commons Library.

Justice minister Rory Stewart wrote: “There are no plans to place the information in the library as the report contains commercially sensitive information.”

Source: Tory government refuses to publish official report on doomed Carillion’s performance because it’s ‘commercially sensitive’ – Mirror Online

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7 thoughts on “How long must we let the government hide the facts about its dodgy deals behind ‘commercial sensitivity’?

  1. Roland Laycock

    The Tories are turning the country into a cesspit and have the backing of the media with there greed, there is no such thing as Democracy in the UK just the start of a Dictatorship

  2. Brian

    Why not just publish an investment vs performance graph! A simple ratio to show what objectives have been met for the contract price, no figures or confidentiality comes into it.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      They’d say that was commercially sensitive information as others would be able to draw conclusions about the firm’s competence from it.

      1. John D. Ingleson

        ‘Conveniently, no FOIs allowed to expose the corporate scroungers’ gross incompetence and greed still further than current evidence shows.

  3. NMac

    It is being used as an excuse to cover up the fact that privatisation is just one huge scam – a Tory cash cow for them and their friends.

  4. Dez

    The contract must have been full of holes and tame deliverables to maximise their profit margins. The contract was obviously not robust but even so even with such an advantage of no watch dogs or competent Government management or even the companies own auditors falling asleep on the job they still managed to crash out financially. To fail financially with such advantages, and no commercial pressure ,smacks of a greed untouchable culture running the company just for their own and shareholders advantage or their contract was so bad they still ran at a huge loss
    for what seems very little deliverables from those services that to endure their lacklustre services. Thank god this Government is not trying to negotiate a major EU deal if this is the standards and integrity they work to. Heads must fall for this debacle…… to early to use corruption..

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