Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Black ink blindness

I have been busy working today so have not have much of a chance to look at the expenses released today. However I have read a number of blog posts where others have posted pictures of them and the main thing I have noticed is just how much has been blacked out. In some cases it is virtually the whole receipt.

I have to say that the approach taken by the authorities seems to have been, if in doubt redact it which surely goes against the spirit of what this was intended for? I thought it was just supposed to be for sensitive things like addresses and credit card numbers. They seem to go much further than this blacking out comments written by the claimants (and we all know how embarassing some of those were - Andy Burnham's marriage anyone?) as well as all sorts of other information that really should be in the public domain.

In fact there is so much black ink being liberally splashed about that it actually seems to be causing confusion about what was and wasn't being claimed. In a blog post today, Paul Waugh is asking if Jack Straw claimed for Christmas cards which is verboten. The response has been that Mr Straw always pays for his Christmas cards and his office are trying to get hold of an unredacted copy of the receipt to check whether he made this clear. You can't tell because his comments have been excised.

So they appear to have been redacting information that would clarify whether claims were or weren't within the rules!? That seems crazy.

In some ways I am glad I have been busy today as I think wading through all these partially obscured receipts would have driven me a bit peculiar!


Anonymous said...

Was it not the case though the the MPs themselves censored their own expense returns, rather than (exclusively?) some overly-eager black ink appliers in the the Fees Office?

Oranjepan said...

Andrew Pierce has announced that the Telegraph will publish the unredacted versions they hold for every MP - which will make for an interesting comparison.