Why should it take so long for the Prime Minister / Cabinet Office to publlsh a censored version of the Detainee (i.e. Torture involvment ) Inquiry Interim Report ?
At least £1.3 million pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent, but not a single word has been published, of even the Interim Report.
Remember the Full report should have been published in July 2011, but the Inquiry has been nobbled.before actually questioning any witnesses.
The Cabinet Office have used no fewer than 6 Exemptions to deny this request under the F Off Information Act 2000:
1 Horse Guards Parade
Telephone: 020 7276 2294
(by email only)
8 January 2013
I refer to your 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."
I can confirm that the report is held by the Cabinet Office. However, the whole of the report is exempt information for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Insofar as information in the report is exempt information only by virtue of one or more qualified exemptions, in all the circumstances, the public interest in maintaining those exemptions outweighs the public interest in disclosure (s.2 FoIA).
Most of the report is exempt information by virtue of s.22 FoIA (information intended for future publication): the report is held by the Cabinet Office (and has been held at all times since it was received from the Inquiry) with a view to the publication of as much of it as possible at a future date. This has been made clear by statements made by Mr Kenneth Clarke, on behalf of the Government, to Parliament on 18 January 2012 and 17 July 2012.
On 18 January 2012, Mr Clarke said:"...following consultation with Sir Peter Gibson, the chair of the inquiry, we have decided to bring the work of his inquiry to a conclusion. We have agreed with Sir Peter that the inquiry should provide the Government with a report on its preparatory work to date, highlighting particular themes or issues which might be the subject of further examination` The Government are clear that as much of this report as possible will be made public, We will continue to keep Parliament fully informed of progress..."
On 17 July 2012, Mr Clarke said (in a written statement to Parliament):"In my Statement on 18 January 2012, announcing the Government's decision to bring the Detainee inquiry to a conclusion, I said that Sir Peter Gibson, the inquiry chair, had agreed to provide the Government with a report on its preparatory work to date, highlighting particular themes or issues which might be the subject of further examination. The inquiry sent its report to the Prime Minister on 27 June 2012. The Government are now looking carefully at its contents and remain committed to publishing as much of this interim report as possible. I will provide a further update when the House returns."
Public interest test
The exemption under s.22 is a qualified exemption. We have considered the arguments in favour of release alongside those in favour of withholding information. It is our view, that whilst there is a public interest in publishing the report now, on grounds of transparency and openness, there is a stronger public interest in ensuring sufficient time and space: to identify the material in the report that can properly be made publicly available; and to distinguish this from material disclosure of which would not be in the public interest (which material is exempt from disclosure by virtue of the exemptions considered below).
Accordingly, where the s.22 exemption applies, the public interest balance falls in favour of withholding the material.
We continue to look carefully at the content of the report in order to fulfil the Government's intention to publish as much of it as possible. At present, there is no date set for publication.
Of the remainder of the information in the report, some is exempt information by virtue of absolute exemptions. The Cabinet Office is not required to consider whether the public interest favours disclosure of information to which these exemptions apply.
Material in the report which relates to, or was supplied indirectly by, a body listed in s.23(3) is exempt information, by virtue of s.23(1),
Certain information in the report comprises personal data, disclosure of which would contravene the Data Protection Act 1998 (in particular it would contravene the First Data Protection Principle, in that disclosure would not be fair to the individuals concerned). Accordingly, this information is exempt information by virtue of s.40 FoIA.
Certain information in the report is confidential information, disclosure of which would constitute an actionable breach of confidence on the part of the Cabinet Office. I can not provide further details in this regard because to do so would disclose exempt information (see s.17(4) FoIA). This information is exempt information by virtue of s.41 FoIA.
Other qualified exemptions
The rest of the information in the report is exempt information on the grounds of (one or more of) s.24(1), s.27(1), s.42 and/or further exemptionsI details of which can not be provided without disclosing exempt information (see s.17(4) FOIA).
Some material in the report, which is not exempt information by virtue of s.23(1), is exempt information under s.24(1), because exemption from disclosure is required in order to safeguard national security. This is a qualified exemption. Safeguarding national security is a fundamental obligation of government and the public interest in its maintenance may only be overridden in exceptional circumstances.
Some material in the report is exempt information by virtue of s.27(1), because its disclosure would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another state, or the interests of the United Kingdom abroad: its disclosure would make international relations more difficult for the UK and/or would require us to take diplomatic steps to minimise the resulting harm. This, too, is a qualified exemption. Since disclosure of this material would be likely to inhibit other governments' willingness to share sensitive information with the UK there is a strong public interest in maintaining this exemption.
Some information in the report is exempt from disclosure under s.42 of because it is information for which a claim to legal professional privilege (LPP) could be maintained in legal proceedings. LPP stems from the strong public interest in the proper administration of justice. Accordingly there is a strong public interest in-built to the privilege itself. While this too is a qualified exemption, strong countervailing considerations must be adduced to override the in-built public interest.
Public interest test
While there is a strong public interest in openness and transparency with regard to the matters that are the subject of the Detainee lnquiry's terms of reference, this public interest will be very largely met by the publication, in due course, of as much of the lnquiry's report as possible. In these circumstances, there is only limited public interest in favour of disclosure of the information in the report to which the above exemptions apply; and the public interest in maintaining the exemptions comfortably outweighs this limited public interest in disclosure,
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:
Head of Knowledge and Information Management Unit
1 Horse Guards Road
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 the 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 the Cabinet Office. The information Commissioner can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner`s Office
lf you have any queries about this letter, please Contact the Cabinet Office FOI Team. Please remember to quote the reference number FOl[reference number] in any future communicationsI
FOI Team Cabinet Office