Help us to stop government by exploding message

Senior officials – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson – may be using disappearing message apps like WhatsApp and Signal to carry out government business. These apps allow them to delete messages after they’ve read them or minutes later.

This lack of transparency is an urgent threat to democratic accountability and to the future of the public record.

The law that protects government records is the UK Public Records Act 1958.  It says that all records about government policy must be reviewed and retained for public archiving.

This law covers, for example, messages between a special adviser and a minister about government policy – such as preparations for Brexit or the response to the coronavirus pandemic. It requires messages to be retained – so it can be determined whether they should be archived to maintain historical decisions and released to the public. 

Our partners The Citizens have already tried to find out more about what is happening. Several requests have been made under the Freedom of Information Act requesting copies of government messages on topics in the public interest.

In March, when faced with no reply, the Citizens sent an initial legal letter to the government, raising serious questions and concerns about the use of these apps. To date, and despite chasing, no reply has been received.

The next step is a legal challenge to this type of secretive, unaccountable communication.

To take this government to court, we need your help. We have launched a crowdfunding campaign which you can contribute to by clicking on the button below. Every penny helps so please donate whatever you can afford.

This crowdfunder is to raise funds to support the Citizens’ cost risks associated with their case. If for some reason they don’t need to spend all the donations on their case or if they don’t end up in court, a refund will, of course, be offered. Should you choose not to request a refund the donations will be split evenly between Citizens and Foxglove. Please contact us if you’d like more information about this.

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