Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Transparency

Research Handbook on Transparency

Elgar original reference

Edited by Padideh Ala’i and Robert G. Vaughn

In the last two decades transparency has become a ubiquitous and stubbornly ambiguous term. Typically understood to promote rule of law, democratic participation, anti-corruption initiatives, human rights, and economic efficiency, transparency can also legitimate bureaucratic power, advance undemocratic forms of governance, and aid in global centralization of power. This path-breaking volume, comprising original contributions on a range of countries and environments, exposes the many faces of transparency by allowing readers to see the uncertainties, inconsistencies and surprises contained within the current conceptions and applications of the term.

Chapter 11: The long and winding road to transparency in the UK

Shonali Routray

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law, corporate law and governance, corruption and economic crime, information and media law, labour, employment law, regulation and governance


“Information is power, and any government’s attitude about sharing information with the people actually says a great deal about how it views power itself, and how it views the relationship between itself and the people who elected it.” Tony Blair (1996 – then Labour Party Leader and the Leader of the Official Opposition at CFOI awards) The late 1990s signalled a watershed in the UK transparency agenda through the passage of Freedom of Information (FOI) and whistleblower protection laws. These laws were the result of pressure from civil society groups that had been championed by independent-minded politicians from the main parties. At the heart of those laws lie the objectives of openness, transparency, accountability and protection of the public interest. FOI laws can provide citizens with greater information about the decisions that affect their lives and the way policy is formulated. Whistleblower laws act as a check on wrongdoing and/or malpractice in the workplace. Together, these laws can represent a powerful deterrent to wrongdoing and malpractice. In this chapter we examine the historical context of FOI and whistleblower laws, their content, how they have helped shape the transparency agenda, as well as challenges they have faced in more recent times. The progress of transparency laws in the UK has been slow.

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