Feeds

Straw slaps ban on Iraq debate docs

Why appeal when you can veto?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

When the government decided not to appeal the Information Tribunal's order to release Cabinet minutes related to the invasion of Iraq it seemed like a victory for open, transparent government. It wasn't.

Instead of making a legal appeal against the decision Jack Straw has opted to simply veto the decision.

Justice Minister Jack Straw issued a certificate under section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Straw said: "The effect of my certificate is that the disputed information - these Cabinet Minutes relating to Iraq - will not be disclosed."

"The conclusion I have reached has rested on the assessment of the public interest in disclosure and in non-disclosure of these Cabinet minutes. I have placed a copy of that certificate, and a detailed statement of the reasons for my decision in the Libraries of both Houses. I have also published today the criteria against which I decided to exercise the veto in this case."

In a closely argued decision the ICO originally ruled in favour of releasing the minutes of Cabinet discussions on the invasion of Iraq despite opposing arguments that Cabinet collective responsibility would be damaged by such a move. Collective responsibility is the convention that after open argument within Cabinet all members then publicly support the joint decision.

The ICO said it supported collective responsibility and appreciated the importance of free debate within Cabinet but that these considerations were 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."

Straw said he did not accept the rationale that the momentous nature of the decision increased the strength of arguments in favour of disclosing the documents.

For his part the increasingly irrelevant Information Commissioner Richard Thomassaid anything other than exceptional use of the veto powers would "undermine much of the progress made towards greater openess and transparency in government since the FOI Act came into force." Thomas said he would look at Straw's decision and put a report before Parliament.

The ICO decision was upheld by the first line of appeal - the Information Tribunal which said the minutes should be released albeit with some information redacted.®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.