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Humphrey on top

Martin Rosenbaum | 09:30 UK time, Friday, 26 May 2006

I attended a conference yesterday about FOI, where Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, revealed his decision to make the Attorney General disclose more of the background to his legal advice on the Iraq war.

The conference was organised by the Constitution Unit at University College, London, and copies of the presentations should be on their website, now or soon. But worthy as they are, these official papers won't tell you the most significant facts to emerge:

* A Cabinet Office official revealed that the material most frequently downloaded from their FOI disclosures log was the moving tale of Humphrey the former Downing St cat (so whoever said the public are more interested in issues than in personalities?)

* Alex Allan, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA), is a reader of this blog.

* Important though he is, he is not one of 'the ten most important people in government', who apparently are the staff of the DCA's FOI Central Clearing House, which advises other departments on what and what not to disclose in sensitive, potentially embarrassing, high profile cases - like stuff about cats, maybe.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:48 PM on 26 May 2006,
  • Byrne wrote:

I doubt very much that the background to the Attorney General's 'opinion' of whether going to war against Iraq without a second UN Resolution was legal will be published.

His 'opinion' was changed (or some say re-written) by some combination of Baroness Sally Morgan and Lord Charles Falconer, knowing that a second resolution would never be obtained.

  • 2.
  • At 11:17 AM on 30 May 2006,
  • David Allen Green wrote:

As a former central government lwayer dealing with FoI issues, I must put a good word in for the DCA Clearing House. In many ways they are the "good guys" of FoI in central government and their involvement in a difficult case will usually mean that a disclosure decision will be made in accordance with the Act.

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