ICO tells Cabinet Office to release Iraq docs
Cabinet Office: 'Meh'
The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has told the Cabinet Office that it must release documents relating to Cabinet debates over the invasion of Iraq.
The order refers to discussions between 7 and 17 March 2003 when the Attorney General's advice on the legality of any invasion was discussed. This decision potentially goes against the convention of cabinet collective responsibility; the idea that once a Cabinet decision has been reached then all members will publicly defend that decision, regardless of whether they originally, privately, supported it or not.
But the ICO does not believe its decision in this case will set a precedent for other Cabinet minutes.
A statement from the Cabinet Office leaves open the possibility of appeal: "We have received the ICO decision notice which we are considering. The requirement for openess and transparency must be balanced against the proper and effective function of government. At the very heart of that system is the constitutional convention of collective Cabinet responsibility."
But the ICO decision makes clear that these arguments have been considered. The decision notes both "the importance of the Cabinet's ability to freely consider the most important and sensitive policy issues without inhibition", and "that protecting the convention of Cabinet collective responsibility is a strong factor in favour of witholding Cabinet minutes".
Both these considerations are outweighed by the public interest because of:
"The gravity and controversial nature of the subject matter, Accountability of government decisions, Transparency of decision making, Public participation in government decisions."
For all these reasons the ICO believes the Cabinet Office should release the documents. However the ICO does allow for the non-disclosure of "a number of specific references... likely to have a detrimental effect on international relations." These can be kept secret.
The full ICO decision notice is here (pdf). ®
How long before the CPS get interested?
The sub-text here of course is that members of the Government may have exceeded their authority and committed a crime. That's pretty unlikely, because UK law gives the PM very wide discretion to basically do whatever he likes. However, we have signed up for the ICC, which means (at least in theory) that politicians who breach some "international laws" should be prosecuted.
So, how much evidence do we need before the CPS is compelled to take an interest?
Blairs 'Blood debt' earns him £7 million
After struggling all his life to become more powerful, wealthy and famous his retirement would have been his first loss of power. His betrayal of the British people ensured his personal power - in effect he was already working for free as for the corporations that now enrich him. A nice smile and the constant protestions of 'sincerity' were traits Tony shared with Ted Bundy, and I bet Shipman had a nice bedside manner. Sociopathic traits that are common in successful politicians lead to sociopathic policy. 92% of the public were against war without a UN resolution so Bush allowed Blair to opt-out of the war but Blair chose to sacrifice other peoples children . His decision to go to invade and any crimes the occupation has been carried out in Iraq, should mean that he is tried in a British court, though since that hasn't happened then in the International Criminal Court.
Over a million Iraqis have died and hundreds of British troops. Regardless of whether you think Blair sincere or not, if even the negligence of a company director led to the death of hundreds of employees, they would be charged in any truly independent court.
actuley it has allways confused me say what you like about tony (and I have lots of times) he loved popularity but the war was unpopler so why did he do it.
all the rest of the time he was a slave to public opinion why did he go against it this time?