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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50137790
  • Date: 30 April 2009
  • Public Authority: Cabinet Office
  • Summary: The complainant asked the Cabinet Office for ‘Information concerning the operation which resulted in the raid of a house in Lansdown Road, Forest Gate, London, on June 2 2006’. The Cabinet Office replied that the exemptions, under sections 23(5) and 24(2) of the Act, from the duty to confirm or deny whether information was held, applied in this case, and it extended the time limit in order to consider the public interest test in respect of section 24(2). It subsequently refused to confirm nor deny that it held the requested information, referring to sections 23(5) and 24(2), but referred the complainant to five responses on its website which the Prime Minister had given to journalists in respect of the raid. It upheld its decision at internal review. During the course of the Commissioner’s investigation the Cabinet Office disclosed some information to the complainant, but stated that, under the provisions of sections 23(5) and 24(2) of the Act, it was neither confirming nor denying whether any further information was held. The Commissioner decided that, having extended the time limit to consider the public interest test, the Cabinet Office did not provide its assessment of the public interest test within a reasonable timescale, which constitutes a breach of section 17(3) of the Act. The Cabinet Office also breached section 17(3)(b), in that its refusal notice failed to state adequately the reasons for claiming that the public interest in refusing to confirm or deny under sections 23(5) and 24(2) outweighed the public interest in disclosing the requested information. The Cabinet Office was in breach of section 1(1)(b) of the Act in failing to disclose information that was not exempt until after the complainant had approached the Commissioner. In addition, since the Cabinet Office failed to provide the information within the statutory time limit, it also breached section 10(1) of the Act. In failing to confirm or deny that it held information falling within the request, the Cabinet Office also breached section 1(1)(a) of the Act, and in failing to provide that confirmation or denial within the statutory time limit it breached section 10(1). The Commissioner required the Cabinet Office to confirm or deny whether it holds further information that falls within the request and, in respect of any held information, to disclose it (in full or part) or withhold it by reference to an appropriate exemption.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]