BBC BLOGS - Open Secrets
« Previous | Main | Next »

Belgrano secrets

Post categories:

Martin Rosenbaum | 14:18 UK time, Wednesday, 29 April 2009

When the information commissioner ruled that cabinet minutes from the lead up to the Iraq war should be disclosed, there were those who predicted that this could make it open season on cabinet minutes on all sorts of topics.

After the Information Tribunal backed the commissioner, Jack Straw then vetoed their release. He said this was necessary in order to protect the notion of collective responsibility in cabinet government.

Those who predicted and in some cases feared this open season may be reassured by more recent judgments from the commissioner in which he has decided that cabinet minutes should stay secret.

Last month he ruled against revealing discussions about the Olympics (declaration of interest: that was my request).

The General BelgranoToday he has issued a decision about documents relating to the controversial sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War - and he says that he "has concluded that the public interest narrowly favours withholding the four cabinet minutes".

The commissioner says that this is because they concern a decisive moment in an armed conflict and disclosure could have implications for future such discussions.

To many it may seem surprising that documents about military action nearly 30 years ago are thought to still require more secrecy than those about a much more recent conflict. But the commissioner is always keen to stress that under the Freedom of Information Act assessing the public interest depends on the circumstances of the individual case. Yet it is often the same factors (the prominence and currency of the issue) which may strengthen both the case for and the case against disclosure.


or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.