The Freedom of Information Act has a clause which allows public authorities to ignore a request for information “if the request is vexatious”. It says little about what members of the public can do if they encounter vexatious government departments.

The Cabinet Office – which includes the prime minister’s office – seems now to be openly refusing to comply with the transparency law, especially when it comes to the person of the prime minister. His courtiers seem to regard FoIA requests as lèse-majesté, and to regard their job as being to fight transparency. Read more

Chris Cook

By Chris Cook

Correspondence between Prince Charles and government ministers must remain secret, the government has decided.

Dominic Grieve, the attorney-general, is using a ministerial veto that has been deployed only four times, to block publication of the documents.

The letters had been requested by the Guardian newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act. This veto overturns a ruling by the upper tribunal, a higher court, that ruled in favour of disclosure. Ministers have used the veto in three other cases, to block disclosures relating to the Iraq war, Scottish devolution and NHS reform. The Prince has caused controversy in the past with his advocacy of causes from homeopathy, a reversion to “traditional” teaching methods to his dislike for modern Read more

A fortnight ago, MPs caught a fleeting glimpse of a process that has, to this point, taken place discretely: the Information Commissioner’s Office investigation into the office of Michael Gove over suspected breaches of the Freedom of Information Act.

A transcript is now available for Mr Gove’s appearance before the education select committee, when he answered questions on the topic. He said the DfE had not released data from one document in response to FoI requests because it was political.

The law is straightforward: only government data is covered by the FoI Act. Party political or private business is never captured, even if it is sent via a government email address. Official business, however it is transmitted, is always covered.

In circumstances where there is a mix of party, personal and government business, official data is released and the remainder is redacted. So the whole text would need to be party political and not official for the document not to be covered by the act.

We have published it below.

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