» Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Iraq/Attorney General’s advice

Asked if Downing Street considered the Attorney General’s legal advice on the Iraq conflict to constitute a Cabinet paper in the light of today’s Guardian report and information from the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s office stating that she was able to request papers for examination unless they were Cabinet papers, the PMOS said he thought it would be useful to give some background to the story today. A Guardian journalist had made a request to the Government for the Attorney General’s advice. The request had been declined because of exemptions to the Code on Access to Government Information – those exemptions being 2 (internal policy advice) and 4 (legal professional privilege). We were confident that we had acted according to the Code. The journalist concerned had then asked us to review the decision that had been taken. We had done so, but had subsequently upheld it. The journalist had then approached the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, who had asked us for the relevant papers. However, because of our absolute confidence that the Attorney General’s advice was covered by legal professional privilege, under that exemption we would not be disclosing it to her. Put to him that the Ombudsman was not asking for the disclosure of the papers on the grounds of freedom of information but under her powers as Parliamentary Ombudsman, the PMOS said he did not believe that the position would be any different.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. I’m glad we live in an era of open government. It must have been really tricky in the olden days, when they wouldn’t tell you anything, or covered up/used exemptions to avoid issues, or did use legal devices such as the official secrets act to prosecute those dangerous whistle-blowers of yore!

    Comment by z — 2 Mar 2004 on 4:10 pm | Link
  2. Yes there is much information out there on policies etc, and of course recent ‘dramatic’ events seem to have re-stimulated interest in politics as a whole.

    An ‘open’ governement is a fantastic idea in theory, but then information available on how spin is employed,rather cancels out faith in the validity of the available information does it not?

    Comment by Max Richards — 2 Mar 2004 on 5:19 pm | Link
  3. ‘open Government’, only till we want to know something they don’t want us to know. What would be interesting to know is what the PM and co. asked the A.G. to comment on, and how this is now effected by the sudden disapperance of theatre WMD?

    Comment by Peter Keating — 2 Mar 2004 on 6:33 pm | Link
  4. open government.
    well people all over the UK are being taught a little bit about the dark ages.
    mostly by looking at the politics section of the newspapers and reading about what’s going on. well reading what the government wants you to think is going on.

    Comment by Dikkie — 3 Mar 2004 on 10:04 am | Link

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