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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March 2005, 14:58 GMT
UK refuses records on Jenin death
By Nic Rigby
BBC News Online, Norwich

Iain Hook's UN identity card
Iain Hook was working for the UN when he was killed
The UK Government is refusing to release information about the death of a British UN worker in Jenin who was shot by an Israeli soldier.

In January BBC News used the Freedom of Information Act to seek the facts about Iain Hook's death in November 2002.

Now the government has responded that it is unable to release any information on Mr Hook, 54, of Felixstowe, Suffolk.

It said releasing information on the death could damage its relations with another state.

John Gillan, of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also said other information on the death could not be released because it related to the "formulation or development of government policy".

I am surprised they (the Foreign Office) have not attempted to provide you with any information at all
Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information

He said the government did not accept that a public interest argument outweighed the need to keep this information secret.

Mr Gillan said other information about Mr Hook's death could be refused because in the opinion of British foreign office minister, Baroness Symons, it constituted private discussions between officials which would "inhibit the free and frank provision of advice" if released.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: "I am surprised they (the Foreign Office) have not attempted to provide you with any information at all.

"Your request is for information on the death. You would assume that they have information about what has been established themselves, which is not in confidence, which could be disclosed, given that there is a very substantial public interest."

'Disclosure should be full'

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding , told the BBC News website that he was amazed at the decision.

"Surely the interests of a British citizen should take precedence over our relations with Israel," he said.

"Disclosure should be full. It prompts the question: What have they got to hide?"

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said she would not want to comment at this stage as it could jeopardise any appeal against the refusal of the Freedom of Information request.

Mr Hook was project manager for United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) when he was killed.

Waiting for information

Although it was revealed at the time he was shot by an Israeli soldier, the full circumstances of the case have never been revealed.

An inquest was opened into the case at Ipswich Crown Court in December 2002, but has yet to be completed.

Ipswich coroner Dr Peter Dean said on Wednesday he had received co-operation from the Foreign Office, the UN and Israel over the case of Mr Hook, although at the moment he could not give a date for the completion of the inquest.

"I have spoken to people at the UN and we have got information from the UN. I have spoken to the Israeli Embassy and we are waiting for information from the Israelis," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Hundreds use new information act
13 Feb 05 |  Scotland
British UN worker 'shot in back'
14 Feb 03 |  England


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