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Start of a long struggle

I really am a glutton for punishment. My latest fray in the world of FOI is a request for correspondence relating to the formulation of the Stern Review. I've asked for related correspondence from Stern himself, Gordon Brown, and Brown's special advisers.

If I recall correctly, the Treasury are pretty notorious for flouting transparency legislation, and this looks as if it is going to be no exception. My request was made under the Environmental Information Regulations but the Treasury are insisting that it should be handled under the FOI Act (which will allow them to reject it on cost grounds). They say that because they are an economics and finance ministry, the correspondence I'm after will not be communicating environmental information. The fact that they have come up with this response without actually referring to the EIR legislation tells you everything you need to know.

EIR is actually very specific, noting that environmental information includes:

cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions

I don't think they have a leg to stand on, and I have asked for an internal review. I have no doubt, however, that they will try to string this out as long as possible. This is probably just the start of a very long struggle.

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Reader Comments (6)

Andrew, as you know I am quite experienced in these matters.
Play it by the book- so they can't dismiss on a technicality.
If they insist on going via FOI and reject then go through their internal appeals procedure
(and quietly note if they run over time)
If they reject, again, appeal to the ICO on the grounds that you have already noted:
"EIR is actually very specific, noting that environmental information includes:
cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions"

If the ICO does not side with you, appeal to the Information Tribunal- it costs nothing (except time)

Mar 5, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Keep at it Bish. The more they prevaricate, the more it confirms they have something they don't want you to know.

"Delay is the deadliest form of denial" - C Northcote Parkinson

Mar 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Your Grace,

Your efforts in pursuit of transparency, truth and scientific integrity bring much needed credit to the Scottish Episcopacy.
Keep up the good work and herewith some mites for the collection plate.
Best wishes,
TG O'Donnell

Mar 5, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTG O'Donnell

I wish you luck Andrew.

I have to decide by this Friday whether to take on the Met Office represented by the Treasury Solicitor in an oral hearing. The Treasury Solicitor has several times threatened me with costs if I do so, but the Tribunal has assured me that he is unlikely to succeed. From the start in 2007, the Met Office, Defra Ofcom and all the Unis refused to acknowledge the EIR but after Climategate they all got into line.

So keep pushing the Treasury! Be sure to ask for a review under regulation 11, which specifically states that its your opinion and not theirs that counts and they must by law respond in 40 days.

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

"threatened me with costs"

Sounds like sabre-rattling to me. Also shows how low they will stoop - they're clearly not used to being challenged.

Mar 5, 2013 at 5:21 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

O/T but might be of interest:

"Threat to economy as Treasury ignores expert warnings - 5 March 2013"

Last line of the article links to scans of the emails released through FOI.

Mar 13, 2013 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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