I speculated in FOI Friday at the weekend that Andrea Hill, the embattled chief executive of Suffolk County Council, probably agrees with Tony Blair that FOI was, in hindsight, a bad thing.
After all, thanks to FOI, the taxpayers of Suffolk know thousands were spent on coaching sessions for the chief executive, that hundreds of pounds were spent on snazzy profile pictures of the authority’s top boss and, most recently, that she tried to charge stays in posh hotels through her expenses because she lives too far away from the office to be able to attend late night dinners and drive home.
It seems I was right. Roy Greenslade, via the WikiSuffolk website , reports on 1,800 word (count ’em) letter by Hill in the county council’s monthly newsletter. It’s a monthly newsletter for staff. In it, she paints herself as the victim of a media witch hunt, with neighbours ‘being forced’ to talk to the Press, and, randomly, being subjected to almost daily FOI requests from journalists.
Here’s the rub: If there wasn’t gold in them there FOIs, then journalists wouldn’t keep putting them in. The fact is that three stories about questionable spending have emerged through FOI. In those circumstances, you keep digging.
In the meantime, surely questions have to be asked of the council’s communications team – why was she ever allowed to write that letter?