OFFICIALS have been blasted for secrecy “gone mad” after they covered up every word in an email apart from “Hi”.
Aberdeen City Council was asked under Freedom of Information laws to provide the officials’ register of interest.
All of the 27 documents provided were heavily censored but one email has been decribed as the most heavily-redacted ever seen by campaigners for openness in government.
At the top of the email only the date and subject is visible and at the bottom only the words “Kind regards” and “paralegal” remained.
But in the body of the email itself the opening salutation “Hi” was left followed by 20 completely black lines.
The email, from other documents, seems to be a discussion between officials about whether and how to respond to the request.
Suzanne Kelly received the pointless response this week after sending a Freedom of Information request into Aberdeen City Council.
The activist and campaigner was told she would not get details of the council officials’ interests because she requested “interests” instead of “business interests”.
Suzanne, from Torry, Aberdeen, said: “Here’s the most redacted letter I’ve ever seen from a FOI request, part of the chain of correspondence they sent me. Very illuminating.”
After sharing the email on Facebook, Dorothy Bothwell wrote: “Redaction gone mad. Which really does show that they have something to hide.”
Melba Gibson wrote: “We are paying these people nothing should be hidden from us surely?”
And John Symons said: “Transparency is vitally important in the public sector and I do not understand why [the council] cannot be fully open and transparent, particularly if they’ve nothing to hide as we all hope and expect.”
Since being introduced, the FOI law has been widely criticised by public bodies and politicians.
Tony Blair called it “the biggest mistake of his career”.
In 2006 the government published draft regulations to make it easier for public authorities to refuse FOI requests on the grounds of cost.