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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50088848
  • Date: 28 September 2009
  • Public Authority: Attorney General’s Office
  • Summary: The complainant made a request for information related to a meeting between the Attorney General and the strategy adviser to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, Lord Birt. The public authority refused the request under section 35(1)(a) (formulation and development of government policy) and sections 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) (free and frank provision of advice or free and frank exchange of views). The Commissioner has investigated the complaint and has found that for most of the withheld information the section 35(1)(a) exemption applied and the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosure. However the Commissioner also decided that for some information the public interest favoured disclosure and that some information was neither exempt under section 35(1)(a), nor sections 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii). The Commissioner requires the public authority to disclose that information to the complainant within 35 calendar days. Finally, the Commissioner found that the public authority breached section 17(1) (refusal of a request) in its handling of the complainant’s request. NB: The complainant originally submitted his request to the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers. At the time of the request this was a distinct government department providing support to the Attorney General and Solicitor General in their responsibilities as UK Law Officers. The Commissioner understands that the work of that department has now been absorbed by the Attorney General’s Office. References in this decision notice to “the public authority” should be read as references to the Attorney General’s Office.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]