Is it just me, or does UK.gov want everyone to give into FOI requests, except for themselves? Parliament will go to extreme lengths to prevent a FOI request and it looks like UK.gov will take requests to the High Court to prevent requests.
The Information Tribunal misunderstood part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request and failed to properly adjudicate other parts of it, the High Court has said. The case must be re-considered by the Tribunal. The Information Tribunal hears appeals from decisions of the Information Commissioner, and Tribunal decisions …
This decision seems slightly backward to me: if Gov ministers are going against legal advice they were actually given, that seems like a legitimate public interest.
Simply knowing whether or not they sought/were given any advice is of no substantial interest to anyone, in the absence of knowing what the advice was.
I may be mis-understanding, but I also don't see how legal privilege applies - this does not relate to 'personal data' which would be my understanding of that exemption.
Quote: "On the other hand it could lead to the Law Officers' advice not being sought (e.g. because of the fear this would imply that a department was uncertain about the strength of its legal position and possibly invite legal challenge), even though this would be justified by the issue in question," he said.
I just can't get my head around this argument. Are we seriously saying that our 'democracy' is now so bankrupt that to avoid the public seeing the political process at work, our government will pass potentially illegal legislation and hope that no-one notices?
That's really weak.
When a government refuses to let the public see what its doing even when its behaving reasonably and legally, things are pretty messed up. This is the kind of paranoia we saw in Soviet Russia.
But then Britain isn't a Constitutional Democracy like the US or the EU, and despite Brown's promises to change the way politics works, it doesn't look like we're likely to become one any time soon. Christ, we're LESS democratic than the European Union - how depressing is that?
I think that this is more future proofing. In the event of an incident like a war it would be good for the goverment to still retain cover on the question of legallity on the war (i.e. Were goverment lawyers asked about the legality of the war. If they were what was the advice given and does this advice appear to be valid by their less politically beholden peers) .
The more delays that they can put up around showing any advice the better (since if you can delay long enough this issue is no longer significant news but historic infomation).
The issue need not be war (could be what advice is given regarding pandemic, or mad cow disease etc etc).
If there is precident for accepting FOI requests on the question of legal advice then it is more difficult to argue that the current particular situation is exempt. It's one less delay on the actuall content of the advice getting out.
The public wont really give a stuff about this topic so the goverment doesn't really lose much political capital on this issue and (unless it picks up public interest..just to prove me wrong) the conservatives wouldn't pick this up as an issue either (since all they really need to do is not f*ck up and they probably win the next election. And then the problem of keeping joe public uninformed will be theirs). It won't win Labour an election but the secrecy of the state is one of the pieces of state furniture that they wont want to break, so as to not upset the cozy gentlemens club of politics too much.(lets face it labour, liberal and conservative MPs have more in common with each other than they do the public. For all the bile they spew on camera it's really the public that they despise and fear)
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