BBC v Cabinet Office: parallels to Knowle relocation Freedom of Information debacle

Extract from the post directly below:

“I should declare an interest as someone who has made FOI requests to the Cabinet Office [now in charge of “reviewing the FoI Act]and assisted colleagues in doing so. This is one example of a frustrating recent experience:

21 March 2013: BBC makes FOI request to Cabinet Office for the cost of legal assistance provided for witnesses at the Leveson Inquiry.

2 August 2013: Cabinet Office replies, refusing to supply the information on the grounds it is intended for future publication (but without specifying a date).

20 August 2013: BBC asks the Cabinet Office to review its decision.

20 December 2013: BBC complains to ICO that the Cabinet Office has failed to respond to the internal review request.
31 December 2013: Cabinet Office responds, upholding the previous decision and still not providing a publication date.

15 January 2014: BBC complains to ICO about the Cabinet Office refusal.

19 March 2015: After taking over a year to consider the case, the ICO rules that the Cabinet Office stance is not reasonable and that it should give the information to the BBC without further delay. It states: “a denial of that right [of access to information] through procrastination is contrary to the spirit of the legislation”.

April 2015: Cabinet Office decides to appeal against the ICO decision to the Information Rights Tribunal. The case is set to be heard in September.

25 June 2015: The Cabinet Office suddenly withdraws its Tribunal appeal and announces that the cost involved was £287,491.10 – a fact which may well have been considerably more important and newsworthy when the initial request was made 27 months previously than it is now.