By the standards of the Cabinet Office 2 days late (after a reminder) is almost commendable:

Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ
T +44 (0)20 7276 2294
foi.team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk
www.cabinet office.gov.uk

[name]
[email address alias specific to this FOIA request]

FOI Reference: FOInnnnnn

18/08/2015

Dear [name]

I refer to your request where you asked:

"1) What is the financial budget allocated to this Commission,
between its announcement in July and when it is meant to report in
November 2015 ?
2) How much money is the Chair and each member of the FOI
Commission to be paid?
3) Is this an hourly rate or a fixed term contract?
4) Are travel and subsistence expenses to be paid separately?
5) How many hours or days will the Chair and members of the FOI
Commission be expected to work between now and November?
6) Is the Cabinet Office providing office and secretarial support,
or is the FOI Commission establishing their own independent
secretariat ?
7) What are the public contact details of the FOI Commission, so
that members of the public can supply them with evidence of how the
Freedom of Information Act works or fails in practice?"

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I can confirm that the department holds the information that you have asked for, and I
am pleased to provide this to you.

1) The cost of the Commission will be accounted for when the Commission reports
therefore section 22 applied (information intended for future publication).
2) The Commissioners and Chair are unpaid.
3) Not applicable.
4) The Commissioners are entitled to the reimbursement of reasonable travel
expenses.
5) This is for the Commission to determine.
6) The Commission has a dedicated secretariat. The Commission and its secretariat are located in Ministry of Justice office space.
7) The contact details for the Commission can be found on their website page:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/independent-commission-on-freedom-of-information

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact the FOI team. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request or wish
to request an internal review, you should write to:

[name of civil servant]
Head of Knowledge and Information Management
Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ
email: foi-team@cabinetoffice.gov.uk
You should note that the Cabinet Office will not normally accept an application for
internal review if it is received more than two months after the date that the reply was
issued.

If you are not content with the outcome of your internal review, you may apply directly to
the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner cannot
make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by
Cabinet Office. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely


FOI Team
Cabinet Office

Note how

HM Revenue & Customs

Complaints, FOI & DPA Team
s1177
PO Box 198
Newcastle
NE98 1ZZ
Phone 03000 567151
Fax 03000 577655

Email: [name of civil servant] @hmrc gsi.gov.uk


Date: 17 August 2015
Our Ref: [FOI nnnn/15]

Email: [email address]

Dear [name]

Request for information under the Freedom of lnformation Act 2000 (FOIA)
Thank you for your request, which was received on '19 July 2015, for the following
information:

"Copies of the full text of the 80 "Writs of Assistance" which are currently available for use by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland, the under

Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 section 161
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/2/section/161

or other equivalent legal powers in force prior to the Customs and Excise Management Act
1979, in the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll.

N.B. This is NOT a request for any sensitive details of any any ongoing investigations."

I am answering under the terms of the Freedom of lnformation Act 2000 (FOIA).

Writs are issued at the commencement of a Monarch's reign and are issued.by-the courts of the three UK jurisdlctions, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland The wording,
granting the authority to use the power, is the same on all writs.

The annex is reproduced here for your reference.

lf you are not happy with this reply you may request a review by writing to HMRC FOI Team, Room 1C/23,100 Parliament Street, London SWIA 2BQ or e-mailing
foi.review@hmrc.qsi.gov.uk Youmust request a review within 2 months of the date of this letter. lt would assist our review if you set out which aspects of the reply concern you and
why you are dissatisfied.

lf you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The lnformation Commissioner will not usually
consider a case unless you have exhausted the internal review procedure provided by HMRC. He can be contacted at The lnformation Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

[name of civil servant]
(by e-mail)


Annex

Elizabeth the Second, BY THE GRACE OF GOD of Great Britain, lreland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Queen, Defender of the Faith To all and singular Our Officers
and Ministerse who now or hereafter shall have any office, power or authority derived from or under the Commissioners of Our Admiralty or Our Lord High Admiral of Our United
Kingdom for the time being; as also all and every Our Vice-Admirals, Justices of the Peace, Provosts, Sheriffs, Constables, Bailiffs and all other Our Officers and Subjects whomsoever
within every City, Burgh, Town and County of Scotland, and the lslands and Territories thereto belonging; and to every of you; Greeting. Whereas by Commission or Letters Patent
under the Great Seal of Our Realm, bearing date at Westminster the First day of November in the first year of Our Reign, Our Trusty and Well-beloved Sir William Dawson Croft, Knight
Commander of Our Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of Our Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Companion of Our Most Eminent Order of the lndian
Empire, companion of our Royar Victorian Order, Arthur Douglas Owen, Esquire, Companion of our Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Charles William Hardisty, Esquire,
Companion of our Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Arthur Wood Taylor, Esquire, and Francis Noel Roberts, Esquire, Companion of Our Most Excellent order of the British
Empire, were constituted, appointed and assigned to be Commissioners for and during Our pleasure, for the collection and for the management of Our Revenue and Customs and Excise
in and throughout the whole of Our United Kingdom; and by the said Commission or Letters Patent is given and granted unto the said Commissioners full power and authority
respectively to do and execute all matters and things, which by any Act or Acts of Parliament, or by any Law, Usage or Custom for the time being in force, the Commissioners
of Our Customs and Excise are or may be authorised and empowered to do, to the end that all and singular the duties of Customs and Excise and also all and every the Sums of Money
and other premises may be duly paid and answered.

We therefore strictly enjoin and command you and every one of you that, all excuses apart, you and every one of you permit and suffer the said Sir William Dawson Croft, Arthur
Douglas Owen, Charles William Hardisty, Arhur Wood Taylor and Francis Noel Roberts, or their Successors in office as Commissioners of Our Customs and Excise and the Deputies,
Ministers, Servants and other Officers of them the said Commissioners, or of their Successors in office as aforesaid, from time to time as they shall think proper, on any day,
as well by night as by day, but not between the hours of 11 o'clock at night and 5 o'clock in the morning except in the company of a Constable, to enter any building-or place in which
there are reasonable grounds to suspect that any thing liable to forefeiture under the Customs or Excise Acts is kept or concealed, there to search for, seize, and detain or remove any
such thing and, so far as is reasonably necessary for the purpose of such entry, search, seizure, detention or removal, to break open any door, window or container, and to force or
remove any other impediment or obstruction; and further to do and execute all things which of right and according to the Laws and Statutes in force in this behalf shall be to be done.

And we further strictly enjoin and command you, and every one of you, that to the said Sir William Dawson Croft, Arlhur Douglas Owen, Charles William Hardisty, Arthur Wood Taylor
and Francis Noel Roberts, Our said Commissioners, and to all and every person or persons who hereafter shall be constituted, appointed and assigned to collect and manage Our
Customs and Excise in and throughout Scotland, and the lslands and Territories thereunto belonging, and to their Deputies, Ministers and Servants, and other Officers, and each of
them, you and every one of you, from time to time be aiding, assisting and helping in the execution of the premises as is meet, and this you and any of you are in nowise to omit at
your perils

This Writ of Assistance is in effect a General Warrant, of the sort which helped to foment the American Revoloution legal power of entry, search and seizure, of anywhere and everywhere in the United Kingdom, and throughout Scotland, which needs no Magistrate or Judge.

The *only* restraint on HMRC is that at night i.e. between 11pm and 5am, andy such raids must be accompanied by a Constable i.e. a Police Officer.

HMRC appears to escape any financial liability for any damage caused by such forced entry or seizure.

Incredibly these Writs of Assistance last for the reign of the Monarch plus another 6 months

These powers surely cannot be compliant with either the Human Rights ACt , or the European Convention on Human Rights, ot the European Charter, all of which
require *proportionality* and a definate time limit (e.g. a month or 6 months etc.) to a warrant etc. before it needs to be reviewed and renewed.

What is so wrong with HMRC having to to apply for a time and specific location limited search warrant under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, like the Police have to ?

FOI Team
Cabinet Office
Room 3.32
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

E-mail: foi-team@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Sunday 19th July 2015

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please disclose the
following information:

-----------------------
With reference to the new Freedom of Information Act Commission

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/freedom-of-information-new-commission

1) What is the financial budget allocated to this Commission, between its announcemnet in July and when it is meant to report in November 2015 ?

2) How much money is the Chair and each member of the FOI Commission to be paid ?

3) Is this an hourly rate or a fixed term contract ?

4) Are travel and subsistance expenses to be paid seperately ?

5) How many hours or days will the Chair and members of the FOI Commission be expected to work between now and November ?

6) Is the Cabinet Office providing office and secretarial support, or is the FOI Commission establishing their own independent secretariat ?

7) What are the public contact details of the FOI Commission, so that members of the public can supply them with evidence of how the Freedom of Information Act works or fails in practice ?

--------------------

Please provide the requested information, ideally by publishing it
on your public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

Ideally this should *not* be in the form of a "copy and paste"
locked Adobe .pdf file, or similar, attachment.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already
available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the
reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information
requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an
explanation of any proposed charge.

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested, you
should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by
reference to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 legislation.

If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the
Public Interest, then you should clearly explain which public
interests you have considered and why you have decided that the
public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the
public interest in releasing the information.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as
possible and in any event, within the statutory 20 working days
from receipt of this email i.e. no later than Monday 10th August 2015.

Yours faithfully,

[name]
[address]
[tailored email address for this FOIA request]

Complaints, FOI & DPA Team
HM Revenue & Customs
3rd Floor Annex S1177
PO Box 198
NEWCASTLE
NE98 1ZZ

E-mail: foi.request@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
CC: [previous FOIA response civil servants]

Sunday 19th July 2015

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please disclose the
following information:

-----------------------


Copies of the full text of the 80 "Writs of Assistance" which are currently available for use by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland, the under Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 section 161


http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/2/section/161

or other equivalent legal powers in force prior to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

N.B. This is NOT a request for any sensitive details of any any ongoing investigations.
--------------------

Please provide the requested information, ideally by publishing it
on your public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

Ideally this should *not* be in the form of a "copy and paste"
locked Adobe .pdf file, or similar, attachment.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already
available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the
reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information
requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an
explanation of any proposed charge.

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested, you
should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by
reference to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 legislation.

If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the
Public Interest, then you should clearly explain which public
interests you have considered and why you have decided that the
public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the
public interest in releasing the information.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as
possible and in any event, within the statutory 20 working days
from receipt of this email i.e. no later than Monday 10th August 2015.

Yours faithfully,

[name]
[address]
[tailored email address for this FOIA request]


A reply (not quite within the Statutory 20 working days) from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs regarding the number of Writs of Assistance, used to search premises, which, astonishingly, last for the indeterminate period
of the "reign of the current monarch" plus 6 months !.

Writs of Assistance are issued at the commencement of a Monarch's reign; they are not issued on an annual basis HMRC currently has 80 Writs of Assistance for use in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland

The FOIA response:

[name]

Email: [email address]

HM Revenue & Customs
Complaints, FOI & DPA Team
s1177
PO Box 198
Newcastle
NE98 1ZZ
Phone 03000 567151
Fax 03000 577655
Web hmrc.gov.uk

Email [email address]@hmrc gsi.gov.uk


Our ref
Your ref
Date: 9 July 2015

FOI nnnn/15

Dear [name]

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

I refer to your request, which was received on 6 June 2015, for the following information

"1) How many "Writs of Assisfance" has Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (or Customs and Excise) obtained under the Customs and Excise Management Act
1979 section 161

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/2/section/161

or other equivalent legal powers in force prior to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll. ldeally this figure should be broken down by annual totals since 1979

N.B. This is NOT a request for any sensitive details of any ongoing investigations."

I do apologise for the delay in replying.

I am answering under the terms of the Freedom of lnformation Act 2OOO (FOIA) Writs of Assistance are issued at the commencement of a Monarch's reign; they are not issued on an annual basis HMRC currently has 80 Writs of Assistance for use in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland

lf you are not happy with this reply you may request a review by writing to HMRC FOI Team, Room 1C123, 100 Parliament Street, London SWIA 2BQ or e-mailing foi.review@hmrc.qsi.oov.uk You must request a review within 2 months of the date of this letter. lt would assist our review if you set out which aspects of the reply concern you and why you are dissatisfied.

lf you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you may apply direcfly to the lnformation Commissioner for a decision. The lnformation Commissioner will not consider a case unless you have exhausted the internal review procedure provided by HMRC. He can be contacted at The lnformation Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 SAF.

Yours sincerely

[name of civil servant]
(by e-mail)

Who wants to know more details about these indeterminate length General Warrants ?

Why are 80 warrants needed ? Are they geographically based e.g. one for each Port or Airport ?

Why are these intrusive powers not independently reviewed e.g. annually ?

How can indeterminate length non-judicial authorisations for intrusive search powers be valid under the Human Rights Acts ?

Health & Social Care Information Centre have actually responded to a Data Protection Act 1998 s10 Data Subject Notice regarding the Care Data opt out scanda
reported in the mainstream media, within the stautory 21 days.

hsisc
Health & Social Care Information Centre
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6AE
Tel: 0300 303 5678
Fax: 0113 254 7239

enquiries@hscic.gov.uk
www.hscic.gov.uk

18 June 2015

Dear [name]

Our ref: [...]

Thank you for your email received by us on 11th June 2015.

There are two types of information sharing you can object to:

• You can object to information containing data that identifies you from leaving your GP practice. This type of objection will prevent the identifiable information held in your GP record from being sent to the Health and Social Care Information Centre's secure environment. It will also prevent researchers who have gained legal approval from receiving your health information.

• Information from other places where you receive care, such as hospitals and community services is collected nationally by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The Health and Social Care Information Centre only releases this information in identifiable form where there is legal approval for doing so such as for medical research.

This legal approval is only granted where it is:

• in the interests of patients or the wider public to do so; and
• impractical to obtain each individual patient's consent; and
• not possible to use anonymised data.

If you object, this type of information will not leave the Health and Social Care Information Centre to researchers with approval. The only exceptions are very rare circumstances such as a civil
emergency or a public health emergency.

I have checked our records and we have not received any notification from you of a request to prevent the use your information beyond use for direct care. You can find more information about this
here: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/yourinfo

I assume, therefore, that you have registered an objection at your GP Practice in response to the
care.data programme.

The HSCIC and the care.data programme has entered into a pathfinder stage with four Clinical Commissioning Group areas to test the best ways of supporting GPs to ensure patients are informed of the purposes of this data sharing programme, its safeguards and how they can opt out. See http://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/tsd/care-data/ for more information on this.

GP systems are not held or maintained by the HSCIC. We can confirm that no data (raw or otherwise) has been collected by, sent to or is directly available to the HSCIC in relation to the care.data and patient objections GP data collections. We can also confirm that no data can be directly accessed from individual GP practice systems by the HSCIC and that no data has been passed to 'regional centres' as part of the care.data programme.

Further information may be available directly from your GP practice.

You may be interested in the recent response from our Caldicott Guardian to the Daily Telegraph which can be found here: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/6348

Yours sincerely,

[name of civil servant]
Higher Information Governance Officer

Further information about your right to complain under the Data Protection Act is available from the Information
Commissioner's Office, Wilmslow, Cheshire, and on The Information Commissioner's website www.ico.org.uk.

Data Protection Act section 10 Data Subject Notice

Date: Sat, 06 Jun 2015 [...]

To: enquiries@hscic.gov.uk
Subject: Data Protection Act 1998 s10 Data Subject Notice re Care Data opt out scandal - you have 21 days to reply

Data Controller

Health and Social Care Information Centre,
1 Trevelyan Square,
Boar Lane,
Leeds,
LS1 6AE

via email: enquiries@hscic.gov.uk

Saturday 6th June 2015

Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a Data Subject Notice under the Data Protection Act 1998
section 10, regarding the Care Data opt out scandal reported in the
media e.g.

Daily Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11655777/Nearly-1million-patients-could-be-having-confidential-data-shared-against-their-wishes.html

The Guardian
NHS details released against patients' wishes, admits data body
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/06/nhs-data-released-against-patients-wishes

Your processing and sharing or sale of my Care Data medical
records, despite my explicit opt out, is causing me considerable
distress.

Data Protection Act 1998 section 10 Right to prevent processing
likely to cause damage or distress.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/section/10

"(3)The data controller must within twenty-one days of receiving a
notice under subsection (1) ('the data subject notice') give the
individual who gave it a written notice-

(a) stating that he has complied or intends to comply with the
data subject notice, or

(b) stating his reasons for regarding the data subject notice as
to any extent unjustified and the extent (if any) to which he has
complied or intends to comply with it."

I am registered with the [...] Medical Centre

http://[...].nhs.uk/

I expect your written reply no later than Monday 29th June 2015 (21
days plus the weekend)

yours faithfully

[name]
[address]

With the Magna Carta commemorations this year, which seem to resonate especially in the USA, it is shocking to discover that the UK Government still uses General Warrants or Writs of Assistance, which helped to start the American War of Independence e.g. Boston tea party etc.

How can a Writ of Assistance as used by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, ever have been proportionate
under the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK Human rights Act , when instead of expiring or having to be reviewd after a fixed time period,
e.g. a month or 6 months or a year, these are supposedly valid for the "reign of the monarch" plus another 6 months thereafter.

An indeterminate length of for an extremely privacy intrusive power is almost certain to be deemed illegal by the European Court of Human Rights or the UK Supreme Court.

There is no good investigative reason why such Writs of Assistance cannot be in line with other search or even intercept warrants
and have to be reviewed and renewed after fixed lengths of time e.g. 6 months.

Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 section 161 Power to search premises: writ of assistance.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/2/section/161

[F1161 Power to search premises: writ of assistance.

(1) The powers conferred by this section are exercisable by an officer having a writ of assistance if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that anything liable to forfeiture under the customs and excise Acts--

(a) is kept or concealed in any building or place, and

(b) is likely to be removed, destroyed or lost before a search warrant can be obtained and executed.

(2) The powers are--

(a) to enter the building or place at any time, whether by day or night, on any day, and search for, seize, and detain or remove any such thing, and

(b) so far as is necessary for the purpose of such entry, search, seizure, detention or removal, to break open any door, window or container and force and remove any other impediment or obstruction.

(3) An officer shall not exercise the power of entry conferred by this section by night unless accompanied by a constable.

(4) A writ of assistance shall continue in force during the reign in which it is issued and for six months thereafter.]

FOIA request:

HMRC Freedom of Information Team
Room 1C/23 100
Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ

E-mail: foi.request@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Saturday 6th June 2015

Dear Sirs

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please disclose the
following information:

-----------------------

1) How many "Writs of Assistance" has Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (or Customs and Excise) obtained under the

Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 section 161

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/2/section/161

or other equivalent legal powers in force prior to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Ideally this figure should be broken down by annual totals since 1979

N.B. This is NOT a request for any sensitive details of any any ongoing investigations.
--------------------

Please provide the requested information, ideally by publishing it
on your public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

Ideally this should *not* be in the form of a "copy and paste"
locked Adobe .pdf file, or similar, attachment.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already
available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the
reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information
requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an
explanation of any proposed charge.

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested, you
should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by
reference to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 legislation.

If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the
Public Interest, then you should clearly explain which public
interests you have considered and why you have decided that the
public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the
public interest in releasing the information.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as
possible and in any event, within the statutory 20 working days
from receipt of this email i.e. no later than Monday 6th July 2015.

Yours faithfully,

[name]
[address]
[tailored email address for this FOIA request]

Spy Blog is interested in the legal and procedural immunities offered to whistleblowers etc. Unless these are fair and sufficient, they will not allow whistleblowers to use the normal or extraordinary channels with the system to make their allegations, in the public interest.

However, if carte blanche immunity is given to secret informers and agents provocateurs then the most basic principles of justice are abandoned.

If you are a police or intelligence agency or military insider, would you be satisfied that the very limited legal immunity offered on behalf of this QC-led review is sufficient for you to testify in safety, especially where your current or former colleagues have the power to threaten you with criminal charges from their vast array of legal powers, regardless of the wrongs you may be exposing in the public interest ? ,

In this case, the identity of Peter Francis was public, but what if other of his, still anonymous, former undercover police colleagues, wish to speak up about the same or similar allegations of corruption, incompetence and political smear campaigns ?

To really "get at the truth", especially about secretive police / intelligence / military etc. operations, any QC-led or former / currently serving Judge-led or Privy Councillor - led Inquiry or Review. needs to have limited legal immunities for witnesses, made clear from the very outset,

c.f. the previous blog entry

FOIA Attorney General - full copy of "limited immunity" secured for witness(es) by Michael Ellison QC review of Police Corruption / spying on Stephen Lawrence family etc. allegations

Freedom of Information request - Our ref: FOI/13/14

I am writing in response to the Freedom of information request you submitted to this Office by email dated 14th January, the detail of which is copied below.


1) A full copy of the "limited immunity" undertaking by the Attorney General secured by Mark Ellison QC, who is reviewing police corruption and allegations of police spying on the Steven Lawrence family & campaigners

2) Does this "limited immunity" apply only to the Official Secrets Act 1989 or does it cover other potential charges e.g. Terrorism Act 2000 section 58a Eliciting. publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc. ?

3) Does this "limited immunity" apply only to former undercover police officer Peter Francis, or does it cover other potential witnesses or whistleblowers who may wish to communicate with the Ellison review ?

I have now been able to consider your request, It is probably worthwhile to make it clear that this was not an immunity from prosecution. limited or otherwise. The Attorney General provided an undertaking that within certain parameters, evidence given by Peter Francis would not be used against him in any prosecution. The purpose of an Inquiry, public or otherwise, is to get to the truth of what happened. The Attorney General is often asked by the chair of an inquiry to provide an undertaking so that witnesses may be able to give full and frank evidence to the inquiry without fearing that what they say may subsequently be used against them in a prosecution Although the evidence given by an individual cannot be used against them in a prosecution, it does not follow that a prosecution cannot follow The same evidence may be available elsewhere or from some other source, That is why these are undertakings as to the use of evidence and not an immunity from prosecution

I attach the two letters sent from this office to the Ellison Inquiry. Personal contact details of AGO officials have been redacted, You will note that it is limited to Mr Francis and is in respect solely of information about which he had already spoken to the media.

Home Secretary Theresa May's statement announcing that the existing QC-led review by Mark Ellison would now look into the media reports of undercover police surveillance & smears against the Lawrence family and supporters. Undercover Policing - HC Deb, 24 June 2013, c25

This QC-led Review into police corruption around the Lawrence case was announced by Home Secretary Theresa May back in July 2012 - Stephen Lawrence - HC Deb, 11 July 2012, c30WS

With regard to your request under point 2. I would like to note the following. Section 1 of the FOI Act 2000 confers an entitlement. where you have requested recorded information from a public authority, to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in your request, and in cases where the relevant public authority confirms that it holds information, you are entitled to have that information communicated to you.

As point 2 does not appear to be a request for 'recorded information', but rather seeking legal advice, it does not fall under the scope of the Freedom of Information Act

No, this was not "seeking legal advice", it was asking about the scope of the "limited immunity", just like point 3, which is obvious from the text.

The letters clearly state " in any criminal proceedings." which obviously covers point 2 entirely.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request. you have the right to ask for an internal review Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to Rowena Collins Rice. Director General. at the above address.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review. you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision The Information Commissioner can be contacted at' Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House. Water Lane. Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Guy Flitton
Freedom of Information Officer



letter 1 - Attorney General Office to Mark Ellison QC 21Nov2013 (.pdf):


Attorney General's Office
20 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0NF

tel: [redacted]
fax: +44 (020) 7271 2433
www.gov.uk/ago


Mark Ellison QC
The Stephen Lawrence Review
QEB Hoiiis Whiteman.
1 - 2 Laurence Pountney Hill
London
EC4R 0EU

21st November 2013

Dear Mr. Ellison

Thank you for your letter of 23rd October concerning the possibility of an undertaking being offered to Peter Francis should he agree to assist your review. Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service the Attorney General is prepared to offer Mr Francis an undertaking in the following terms:


This is an undertaking provided to Peter Francis in respect of his provision of evidence to the Stephen Lawrence Review being carried out by Mark Ellison QC. 'Evidence' includes oral evidence, any written statement made by Mr Francis preparatory to giving evidence to the Review or during the course of his testimony to the Review, and any document or information produced to the Review by him.

This undertaking applies only to evidence given about matters which are within the terms of reference of the Review and limited to what has been published In the media as to what Mr Francis has said regarding his tasking and reporting connected to the Lawrence campaign.

No evidence Mr Francis may give before the Review, nor any evidence as defined above. will be used against Mr Francis in any criminal proceedings.

The Attorney General is content for you to make public the existence of the undertaking should you wish.

Yours Sincerely

Kevin McGinty
Deputy Legal Secretary


letter 2 - Attorney General Office to Mark Ellison QC 12Dec2013 (.pdf):

Attorney General's Office
20 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0NF

tel: [redacted]
fax: +44 (020) 7271 2433
www.gov.uk/ago


Mark Ellison QC
The Stephen Lawrence Review
QEB Hoiiis Whiteman.
1 - 2 Laurence Pountney Hill
London
EC4R 0EU


12 December 2013

Dear Mr. Ellison

l understand that the solicitors acting for Mr Francis have sought clarification of the of the Attorney General's undertaking that evidence Mr Francis may provide to the Inquiry will not be used against him in any criminal proceedings. I can confirm that the undertaking will cover any evidence given by him that supplements the issues already published in the media and is within the terms of reference of the Inquiry.

Yours Sincerely

Kevin McGinty
Deputy Legal Secretary

It is significant that Peter Francis' solicitors felt the need to seek further clarification that their client would not face criminal charges if he chose to give evidence to the QC-led Review.

Freedom of Information Act requests
Attorney General's Office
20 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0NF

via email to: correspondence@attorneygeneral.gsi.gov.uk
cc: SLMEQC@qebhw.co.uk


Monday 14th January 2014

Dear Sirs,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please disclose the following information:

1) A full copy of the "limited immunity" undertaking by the Attorney General secured by Mark Ellison QC, who is reviewing police corruption and allegations of police spying on the Stephen Lawrence family & campaigners

2) Does this "limited immunity" apply only to the Official Secrets Act 1989 or does it cover other potential charges e.g. Terrorism Act 2000 section 58a Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc. ?

3) Does this "limited immunity" apply only to former undercover police officer Peter Francis, or does it cover other potential witnesses or whistleblowers who may wish to communicate with the Ellison review ?

Background:

This article in The Guardian newspaper

"Police demand notes from Channel 4 on Lawrence spying whistleblower
Chief constable wants broadcaster to hand over material about revelations that undercover officers spied on Lawrence family

Rob Evans
The Guardian, Monday 13 January 2014 21.00 GMT"

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/13/police-channel-4-stephen-lawrence-undercover-spying

which mentions:

"After Creedon's team said they could not give him immunity from an Official Secrets Act prosecution, Francis said he was not happy to speak to their inquiry.

However, Francis is due to give evidence this week to an associated official inquiry that has been asked by the home secretary, Theresa May, to examine the undercover infiltration of the Stephen Lawrence campaign and other allegations.

He is doing so as Mark Ellison, the barrister heading this inquiry, secured from the attorney-general, Dominic Grieve, limited immunity to enable him to speak to his inquiry."

Please provide the requested information, ideally by publishing it on your public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

Ideally this should *not* be in the form of a "copy and paste" locked Adobe .pdf file, or similar, attachment.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an explanation of any proposed charge.

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested, you should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by reference to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 legislation.

If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the Public Interest, then you should clearly explain which public interests you have considered and why you have decided that the public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the public interest in releasing the information.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as possible and in any event, within the statutory 20 working days from receipt of this email i.e. no later than Tuesday 11th February 2014


Yours Sincerely,

[name]
[address]
email: [email]

This constitutes a valid Electronic Signature, as per the
Electronic Communications Act 2000 section 7,
Electronic Signatures and related certificates

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/7/section/7

Spy Blog has re-submitted our FOIA Request which was refused over 6 months ago, on the grounds of imminent publication.

Cabinet Office - 6 F Off IA exemptions not to publish Detainee (Torture) Inquiry Interim Report requested back in December 2012..

Whitehall securocrats and politicians are making themselves look unprofessional or inept or corrupt, over the non-publication of the interim report by the Detainee Inquiry, which hardly got going (no witness evidence sessions) before it was abandoned.

How can it take longer to redact and censor what is likely to have been a very bland and content free report, than it actually took to produce in the first place ?

UNCLASSIFIED

Freedom of Information Team
Knowledge and Information Management Unit
Cabinet Office

1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

E-mail: foi.team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 7276 2294
Web: www.cabinet-office.gov.uk


[name]
[email address]


FOI Reference: FOI318159
18 July 2013

Dear [name]

ef: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

I refer to your request of 14 July 2013 re-submitting your previous request of 9 December 2012 where you asked for a copy of:

"The interim report of the Detainee Inquiry sent to the Prime Minister on 27 June 2012, with any necessary redactions clearly marked and with an explanation of which FOIA Exemptions, if any, are being relied on for each redaction."

As you already know, the Cabinet Office holds the requested information. However, the whole of the interim report remains exempt information for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA). Insofar as the requested information is exempt information only by virtue of one or more qualified exemptions, the public interest in maintaining the exemptions outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

For a full explanation of our reasoning in this regard, we refer you to our letter of 8 January 2013, a copy of which is enclosed, for ease of reference. The reasoning set- out in that letter is equally applicable at today's date.

The process of clearing the report for publication has taken longer than envisaged, but it is important for the Government to be able to publish as full an accounting of the Inquiry's work as possible, without compromising national security and consistent with its legal obligations. Discussions with the Inquiry about clearing the report for publication are nearing a conclusion and it is hoped that the Government will be in a position to publish as full a version of their report as possible in the autumn, although no date has been set.

" in the autumn, although no date has been set."

It is now over a year since this report was submitted to the Prime Minister / Cabinet Office.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact the FOI team. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request or wish to request an internal review, you should write to:

Roger Smethurst
Head of Knowledge and Information Management
Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

email: foi.team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

You should note that the Cabinet Office will not normally accept an application for internal review if it is received more than two months after the date that the reply was issued.

If you are not content with the outcome of your internal review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by Cabinet Office. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

FOI Team
Cabinet Office


It is now over 3 years since Prime Minister David Cameron announced the the setting up of Detainee Inquiry on 6th July 2010

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

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Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests

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Blog Links

Spy Blog

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Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

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