Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Subject access - or not

There's something highly ironic about the news that Eric Hobsbawm CH isn't being allowed to see his MI5 file. Actually, the story says that MI5 merely state that they have no personal data that he is entitled to see under the Data Protection Act, but it seems pretty unlikely that his Marxist credentials would not have brought him to the attention of the security service. The assumption is that access is being denied for national security reasons. (Can we see the Ministerial certificate, then?)

The best bit is, of course, that our Labour government has to explain why the historian should be thought a fit person to be made a Companion of Honour, which is so exclusive that it must rate as one of the highest honours available in this country (though entirely in the gift of the monarch, I believe), while simultaneously being a dangerous leftwinger for the purposes of the subject access right under the Data Protection Act. And I dare say that whichever minister has to present the explanation was an avid disciple in his or her student days ....

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