'Jihadi John' death at centre of dispute

Mohammed Emwazi Image copyright Unknown

Mohammed Emwazi, the British jihadist who featured in beheading videos by so-called Islamic State and became known as "Jihadi John", is dead, according to, amongst others, Barack Obama and IS's own publication.

On the other hand, maybe he isn't dead, according to the University of Westminster in London, where he was a student, and the Information Commissioner's Office.

This question is at the heart of a freedom of information (FOI) dispute between the university and the BBC. The Information Commissioner has now backed the university.

After this was reported, the commissioner's office issued further justification for its stance, arguing that there is no definite proof that the Mohammed Emwazi who attended the university is the same one identified as "Jihadi John".

This stems from an FOI request made in February by my BBC colleague Chris Vallance, a Radio 4 reporter, who asked the university for all the electronic records it had about Emwazi.

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Farage should be used 'sparingly' by Leave campaigners

Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images

UKIP leader Nigel Farage takes part alongside David Cameron in Tuesday's ITV special debate on the EU, but research from his own supporters questions his helpfulness to their cause.

Mr Farage should only be used "sparingly" when Brexit campaigners target blue-collar workers, because of his potential to alienate voters with "a divisive or reactionary tone on issues like immigration". That's according to a report produced for his own allies.

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Revealed: The Bush-Major conversations

President George H.W.Bush and John Major in 1991
Image caption The two leaders discussed foreign affairs and their own domestic troubles

Sir John Major and George Bush senior overlapped in power between late 1990 and early 1993, and their close relationship is illustrated by transcripts of conversations obtained by the BBC.

It's tough at the top, whether you're the British prime minister or the US president, and it can be an irritating nuisance having to fight elections to stay there.

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FOI Commission: Why has it surprised observers?

Cabinet meeting, 2015, with Sir Jeremy Heywood on David Cameron's right Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sir Jeremy Heywood (on Prime Minister David Cameron's right) has spoken of the "chilling effects" of FOI

Ministers have chosen not to make sweeping changes to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, including ruling out fees for requests for information.

The decision follows publication of a report by an independent commission asked to examine the Act.

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Blair and Clinton: the peace process and fatherhood

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton in 1997 Image copyright Getty Images

Records of conversations between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton between 1997 and 2000 - obtained by the BBC - shed new light on their terms in office.

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton told each other that their role was to act like "shrinks" offering therapy to global politicians, as they tried to reconcile various bitter international disputes during their time in office.

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Government loses 'pollutant of publicity' FOI case

Chimney spewing out smoke Image copyright Istock

The Cabinet Office has lost a tribunal case where it argued that publicly revealing how often a cabinet committee meets would harm the workings of government by introducing the "pollutant of publicity".

Last week the Information Rights Tribunal rejected the government appeal, in a strongly worded judgment which described the Cabinet Office's approach as "irresponsible", its key witness as "evasive and disingenuous", and her evidence as "of no value whatsoever".

Read full article Government loses 'pollutant of publicity' FOI case

Cabinet Office delays over freedom of information

Cabinet Office sign

Last month the Cabinet Office took control of government policy on freedom of information, removing it from the Ministry of Justice.

This takes FOI closer to the centre of power within Whitehall and the personal involvement of the prime minister. But how good is the Cabinet Office's own record on handling FOI requests?

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Charles letters: What ruling means for freedom of information

Prince Charles

The Supreme Court ruling about Prince Charles's letters to ministers takes freedom of information to the heart of the British state, the most sensitive area of the relationship between the Royal Family and the government.

Or alternatively it's all about a peripheral matter which has little to do with how contemporary political decision-making happens.

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Winter fuel payment rejected by about 400 pensioners

Thermostat being adjusted by elderly woman

This winter just 29 pensioners decided to decline their fuel allowance. It brings the total number of pensioners who relinquish this benefit to probably about 400 out of over 12 million recipients.

That's despite the fact that two years ago the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith encouraged better off pensioners who can afford their heating bills to return the money to the state.

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Police forces say BBC FOI request is 'vexatious'

Police tape at crime scene

Forty police forces across the country have dismissed as "vexatious" a BBC freedom of information (FOI) application about police monitoring of journalists' communications.

It appears the police have adopted a virtually blanket policy of now rejecting all FOI requests about the use of their surveillance powers to collect communications data on journalists - irrespective of the questions actually asked or how often, if at all, that requester has raised the issue before.

Read full article Police forces say BBC FOI request is 'vexatious'