Recently in Cabinet Office Category

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

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 ?

http://detaineeinquiry.org.uk

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:

Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Parade
London
SW1A 2HQ
Telephone: 020 7276 2294
Email: FOI.Team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk
Web: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk

[name]
(by email only)

[email address]

8 January 2013

Dear [name]

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).

Section 22

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.

section 22 Information intended for future publication.

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..."

(emphasis added)

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."

(emphasis added)

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.

Absolute exemptions

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),

section 23 Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters.

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.

section 40 Personal information.

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.

section 17 Refusal of request.

section 41 Information provided in confidence.

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).

section 24 National security.

section 27 International relations.

section 42 Legal professional privilege.

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:

Roger Smethurst
Head of Knowledge and Information Management Unit
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 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
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

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

Yours sincerely,

FOI Team Cabinet Office

[signature]



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

E-mail: foi.team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

Sunday 9th December 2012

Dear Sirs

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

-----------------------
With reference to

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120717/wmstext/120717m0001.htm#12071774000516

17 July 2012 : Column 132WS

Detainee Inquiry

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Kenneth Clarke): In my statement on 18 January 2012, Official Report, column 751,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.

Please disclose:

1) 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.
---------------------

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 Thursday 10th January 2013 (allowing for public holidays).

Yours Sincerely,

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

The Detainee Inquiry, headed by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, was supposed to have investigated the allegations of complicity in torture and "extraordinary rendition", by the British government, especially its secret intelligence agencies.

However the Detainee Inquiry has been shut down before it even got started formally, even after 18 months delay, supposedly because of the suspiciously lengthy and ineffective Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service investigations into old allegations and the effect of the "smoking gun" documentary evidence discovered in Libya last autumn.

In order to probe exactly how potential witnesses and whistleblowers to the Detainee Inquiry might be protected from vengeful secret bureaucrats, Spy Blog requested, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the full, detailed text of the latest draft(s) (or the final version) of the promised undertakings from the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary and the heads of the intelligence services.

Attorney General's Office disclosure

Download the original (.pdf) letter from Spy Blog
Attorney_General_to_Detainee_Inquiry_03Nov2011.pdf

Text of the letter:

AGO
Attorney General's Office
20 Victoria Street
London
SQ1H 0NF

020 7271 2412

Sara Carnegie
Solicitor to the Detainee Inquiry
35 Great Smith Street
London SW1A 3BQ

3rd November 2011

Dear Solicitor, [handwritten]

UNDERTAKING AS TO THE USE OF EVIDENCE

The Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, has agreed to provide an undertaking to witnesses to the Inquiry as to the use that may be made by prosecuting authorities of the evidence they give to the Inquiry.

The Attorney General has agreed to provide the following undertaking:

This is an undertaking in respect of any person who provides evidence to the Inquiry
'Evidence' includes oral evidence, any written statement made by that person preparatory to giving evidence to the Inquiry or during the course of his or her testimony to the Inquiry, and any document or information produced to the Inquiry solely by that person.

No evidence a person may give before the Inquiry, nor any evidence as defined above, will be used against that person in any criminal proceedings, save that this undertaking does not apply to:

a. prosecution for any offence arising from the provision, by that witness, of false evidence to this Inquiry, or for any offence arising from the witness'
involvement in having conspired with or procured others to give false evidence; or

b. Any witness who gives evidence in relation to matters occurring after a relevant period of detention or alleged rendition, who shall only be protected by this undertaking to the extent that those matters are themselves relevant to treatment during the period of detention or alleged rendition.

It Is further undertaken that in any criminal proceedings against any person who provides evidence to the Inquiry in relation to a matter within its terms of reference, no reliance will be placed on evidence which is obtained during an investigation as a result of the provision by that person of such evidence to the Inquiry.

This undertaking does not preclude the use of information and/or evidence identified independently of the evidence provided by that person to the Inquiry."

The Attorney General is content that you publish this undertaking in any form you consider appropriate.

[handwritten]

Yours sincerely

[signature]

Kevin McGinty
kevin.mcginty@attorneygeneral.gsi.gov.uk

The Detainee Inquiry is not a Tribunal or Court of Law (despite being chaired by a retired senior Judge) and it was not set up as an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 and so it has no legal power to compel any witnesses to give evidence,

How can it can enforce any prosecutions for giving, or conspiring to give it any "false evidence", which the Attorney General's undertaking explicitly does not give immunity for ?.

Despite receiving this letter last November, the Detainee Inquiry has not published it on their website: http://www.detaineeinquiry.org.uk

Cabinet Office disclosure

The Cabinet Office has disclosed this letter from the (now retired) Cabinet Secretary, head of the civil service the recently enobled Lord Gus O'Donnell:

The Cabinet Office have provided a bit of background information:

To provide some context, this letter was sent by the Cabinet Secretary in contemplation of the formal launch of the Detainee Inquiry. Since that inquiry (chaired by Sir Peter Gibson) is now in the process of being wound up, and will not hear oral evidence, the undertakings in this letter will not now have any practical effect. Similar undertakings may, however, be provided for any future inquiry which may take place, following the conclusion of ongoing
police investigations (see the Lord Chancellor's statement to Parliament on 18 January 2012 which you referenced in your request).

The Cabinet Secretary's letter says (para 2, first bullet), "the Attorney General has provided an undertaking...". That statement was not strictly accurate. The Inquiry would have requested the Attorney General's undertaking only at the time of its formal launch.

It is sad to see the use of the Section 23: Information Supplied by, or Related to, Bodies Dealing with Security Matters exemption.

There cannot be any national security risk in disclosing memos which probably just quote the Cabinet Secretary's letter and agree to abide by the "overarching principles" which it sets out - these are not the "detailed guidance for staff called as witnesses".

As expected by Spy Blog, the Cabinet Office letter and "overarching principles" seem suitable for protecting witnesses who are current or former intelligence agency staff members who espouse the official line e.g. by treating evidence given within the Terms of Reference of the Detainee Inquiry, as having been given "lawful authority" for the purposes of the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 7 Authorised disclosures

However the letter does not really provide the necessary guarantees for any whistleblowers who might contradict their current or former bosses.

Neither is it clear what whistleblower guarantees the vast array of private military contractors, defence industry suppliers and sub-contractors etc. who are not civil servants, but who will fear that their security clearances and government contracts could be at risk if they make allegations, or provide evidence which contradicts the official intelligence agency briefing positions, which those agencies might have provided to the Detainee Inquiry or which they might do so to a future inquiry.

As regards undertakings by the heads of the intelligence agencies, I neither confirm nor deny whether the relevant information is held by the Cabinet Office, with reference to the provision at section 23(5) of the Act. Section 23 is absolute and does not require that the balance of public interest is considered.

Download the disclosed (.pdf) document from Spy Blog:
Sir_Gus_O_Donnell_letter_21Nov2011.pdf

The text of Sir Gus O'Donnell's letter:

Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
London
SW1A 2AS

Telephone 020 7276 0101
E-mail gus.odonnell@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk
Web www.cabinet-office.gov.uk

Sir Gus O'Donnell GCB
Cabinet Secretary and
Head of the Civil Service

Dame Helen Ghosh (PUS HO)
Sir Simon Fraser (PUS FCO)
DG Security Service
'C' SIS
D/GCHQ
Ursula Brennan (MoD)
via email

21 November 2011

Dear all,

DETAINEE INQUIRY: UNDERTAKING TO GOVERNMENT WITNESSES

As the Prime Minister made clear in his public letter of 6 July 2010 to Sir Peter Gibson (copy attached), staff in departments and agencies are expected to co-operate fully with the Detainee Inquiry, including any requests to give written and oral evidence to it. A formal launch date for the Inquiry has yet to be set, pending the outcome of the related police investigations, but as you know the Government is keen for it to be able to start work as soon as it is possible to do so.

2. I attach great importance to Crown servants engaging with the Inquiry, if asked, in a full and frank way. As Heads of the departments and agencies most likely to receive formal requests from the Inquiry for staff to give evidence, I would ask you to impress on any of your staff called to give evidence the importance of their doing so and potential value of their contribution. It would also be helpful if you could set out the following overarching principles:

• the Attorney General has provided an undertaking that no evidence a person may give before the Inquiry will be used against that person in any criminal proceedings, although this will not apply to prosecution for any offence arising from the provision by a witness of false evidence to the Inquiry or for any offence arising from a witness' involvement in having conspired with or procured others to give false evidence;

• evidence which a person gives to the Inquiry could involve disclosure of information or documents protected under the Official Secrets Acts (OSA). Provided that disclosures concern information relevant to the Inquiry's Terms of Reference and, as regards oral evidence, are made in accordance with advice on whether information can be dealt with in public or private, such disclosures will be regarded as having "lawful authority" for the purposes of the OSA;

• nothing which an employee provides to the Inquiry by way of evidence, whether orally or in writing, will result or be used in subsequent disciplinary proceedings against that employee except where the conduct to which the evidence relates amounts to gross misconduct, or where it is assessed by the employee's home department or agency that he/she has deliberately misled the Inquiry;

• as regards civil proceedings, in line with normal practice the government will provide legal advice and representation where a serving or former official faces civil legal action as a result of actions carried out in the course of their government employment, provided it is satisfied that they were not acting outside the scope of their employment.

3. It will, of course, be important to ensure that these principles are applied consistently for all staff invited to give evidence to the Inquiry. Cabinet Office officials will be working with yours to develop detailed guidance for staff called as witnesses, incorporating these principles.

I am copying this letter to PUS/MoJ, the Treasury Solicitor, Sir Peter Ricketts, Oliver Robbins and Dominic Wilson.


PUS/MoJ = Sir Suma Chakrabarti, KCB, Permanent Under Secretary at the Ministry of Justice

Oliver Robbins is Deputy National Security Adviser, Intelligence Security and Resilience under Sir Peter Ricketts, sitting on the National Security Council.

Dominic Wilson is the Director, Strategy and Resources, at the Ministry of Defence.


What exactly constitutes "gross misconduct" by a "serving or former official" of the intelligence agencies ?

Even actual personal participation in torture or murder is "not acting outside the scope of their employment" provided that it happens outside of the British Isles and has been signed off by a Ministerial Authorisation under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 section 7 Authorisation of acts outside the British Islands..


Following from our

Spy Blog letter to the Detainee Inquiry re: lack of whistleblower anonymity protection and immunity from prosecution

Freedom of Information Act requests
FOI Team
Cabinet Office
Room 120
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS

via email to: foiteam@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Saturday 20th August 2011

Dear Sirs,

On 6th July 2010 a letter from Prime Minister David Cameron set out the Terms of Reference of the Detainee Inquiry into the alleged complicity in torture by the United Kingdom intelligence agencies and the Government, chaired by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, the distinguished former High Court Judge and former Intelligence Services Commissioner under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

A copy of this letter is available on the Detainee Inquiry website:

http://www.detaineeinquiry.org.uk/2010/07/letter-to-sir-peter-gibson/

http://detaineeinquiry.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/06.07.10-Letter-from-PM-to-Sir-Peter-Gibson4.pdf

(copy attached)

"The Cabinet Secretary and the heads of the intelligence services will require staff in their departments and agencies to cooperate fully with the inquiry and expect them to cooperate with the Inquiry's requests for oral evidence. The Attorney General has agreed to provide an undertaking that evidence given by witnesses may not be used against them in criminal proceedings, whether their evidence is given in public, private or both (other than in proceedings where he or she is charged with giving false evidence or conspiring to do so in the course of this Inquiry). The Cabinet Secretary and heads of the intelligence services will set out analogous undertakings to staff in respect of disciplinary proceedings based on their evidence, whether public or private. )"

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

1) A full detailed copy of this promised Analogous Undertaking by the Cabinet Secretary

2) When this Undertaking was communicated to the Detainee Inquiry

3) If this Undertaking is still to be published, the planned publication date, bearing in mind that it is now over a year since the Prime Minister's letter

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 20th September 2011 (taking into account the August Bank Holiday).


Yours Sincerely,

Our reminder email, (see "No more Openness at the Cabinet Office") regarding our FOIA request "Cabinet Office - missing RIPA Commissioner Annual Reports for 2005", did actually result in prompt response from the Cabinet Office FOI Team, within 4 hours !

However the actual content of the reply is a bit of a surprise.

We had expected the Cabinet Office to simply confirm that they had the two documents, and that they would be published soon, so therefore the Freedom of Information Act 1998 Section 22: Information Intended For Future Publication Exemption, would apply.

Instead:

I am writing to advise you that following a search, I have established that the information you requested is not held by this Department. I can inform you, however, that the reports will be published in due course. When received, they will be laid before each House of Parliament by the Prime Minister in accordance with the provisions of the Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act.

The mystery deepens.

How likely is it that the outgoing Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner, all of whose previous Annual Reports were submitted to the Prime Minister by July of the year after the calendar year to which they refer, would not have done so for their 2005 reports ? Their fellow RIPA Commissioner, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner did submit his 2005 - 2006 Annual Report, and it was published online by July 2006.

Remember that anything which might compromise national security or personal data privacy is excluded from the public parts of these reports.

We have sent an email FOIA request to the Cabinet Office, which covers the Prime Minister's office, asking for the disclosure and publication of two Annual Reports, which are meant to be laid before Parliament each year:

  1. Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2005, by the previous outgoing ICC, Rt. Hon . Sir Swinton Thomas.

  2. Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2005, by the previous outgoing ISC, Lord Justice Simon Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood.

This has not been done, even though Parliament has now risen for the Christmas recess.

Technically, the Prime Minister is now in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Our email:

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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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team." - does this apply to the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government as well ?

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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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."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests

foi.mysociety.org - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

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

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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Recent Comments

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  • wtwu: Anonymous briefings to the mainstream press that the truncated Gibson read more
  • wtwu: Rendition report still unpublished nine months after completion Although government read more
  • wtwu: The clock is till ticking and the Cabinet Office is read more
  • GF: They obviously just wanted more time to respond, illegally (ironically read more
  • Geoff Hillyard: My police Union told be that I would be read more
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  • wtwu: Apart from an automatic email dispaly receipt from public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Spy read more
  • wtwu: This Decision Notice is now available as a(.pdf) from the read more
  • wtwu: The ICO has now published this Deciaion Notice as a read more

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