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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50111678
  • Date: 17 November 2008
  • Public Authority: Cabinet Office
  • Summary: The complainant wrote to the Cabinet Office to request the disclosure of all correspondence between the then Prime Minister and his former strategy adviser Lord Birt between 1 November 2004 and 1 April 2005 together with a schedule of any such documents held. The Cabinet Office refused to disclose this information relying initially upon the exemption under section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act (Formulation of government policy). Upon internal review, the Cabinet Office upheld its decision placing reliance additionally upon the exemption under section 36 of the Act (Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs). The Commissioner upheld the decision of the Cabinet Office on the basis of the exemptions cited under sections 35 and 36 of the Act. However, he has concluded that the Cabinet Office should have disclosed the existence (but not the details) of Lord Birt’s informal role in senior staff appointments. The Commissioner has also found that the Cabinet Office breached section 17(1) of the Act (refusal notice) by not specifying its reliance upon section 36 in the original refusal notice issued to the complainant.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]