Lord Falconer's secret diaries

Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, has been criticised for backtracking on a promise to publish ministerial diaries under the government's new freedom of information legislation. Falconer told The Observer in January that he saw no reason not to disclose who ministers meet on official business such as private sector lobbyists, business people and trade unions.

But six months after The Observer made a request to see the diaries of Falconer and other cabinet ministers, there has still been no response. The Department for Constitutional Affairs has asked for six extensions to the deadline and the latest letter claims that officials are still considering public interest arguments for disclosure.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary chairman Matthew Taylor said: 'There is no democratic reason for withholding this information. This is essential to enable the public to judge whether there is undue influence on the decisions ministers are making from outside bodies and individuals.' A source close to Falconer stated that the general election in May caused some delays and there is no campaign by ministers to oppose the disclosure of ministerial diaries.

Ministers' diaries stay secret as Falconer stalls again (The Guardian, 12 June 2005)