Clifford Singer's Other TPA are a truly magnificent outfit, and I'm not saying that just because he published one of my Tory poster take offs. Here they are on Michael Gove's links with the New Schools Network:
What a curious beast is the New Schools Network, the "independent charity" that championed the plans for "free schools" now being rushed through Parliament by Education Secretary Michael Gove. Click on the group's online form to "Sign up for more information" and a message appears:
"We may pass relevant details to the Department for Education so they can provide assistance. If this is a problem please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org."
How many other "independent charities" pass your details to government unless you email to object? Then again, how many other charities get £500,000 from the government to implement the very policy they've been lobbying for?
Now, as we've seen, the NSN are also approvingly quoted by Free Schools boremeister Toby Young, and so to test the Coalition commitment to a New Politics full of openness and transparency and all that guff, the OTPA put in an FoI request:
DfE relationship with New Schools Network
1) Please send me a copy of the business case with costings presented to the DfE by the New Schools Network (referred to in your letter here: http://bit.ly/9ziO9o)
2) Please declare whether tenders were sought from other organisations for providing these services.
3) Please confirm whether you assessed the NSN's funders to ensure that there was no possibility of a conflict of interest with the DfE's work (eg to establish that none of the funders had a commercial interest in promoting free schools). If so, please supply a list of NSN's funders.
The FoI deadline to respond was 5th August. There was no response. There has still been no response.