Information Commissioner on use of ministerial veto power

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney-General

In an earlier post, I drew attention to the Attorney-General’s decision to use the power under the Freedom of Information Act to overrule a decision by the Information Commissioner. The Commissioner had decided that minutes of Cabinet meetings that took place on the eve of war in Iraq should be released; the government, by using its veto power, blocked this.

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has now responded on his blog. He is critical of the the government’s routine use of the veto power in respect of decisions concerning Cabinet minutes, arguing that

if the veto continues to be routinely exercised whenever the [Information Commissioner’s Office] does order the disclosure of Cabinet minutes, particularly when significant time has passed since the decision was made, then it is hard to imagine how freedom of information can ever be used to secure the release of even the most significant proceedings of the Cabinet. And that would be thoroughly unsatisfactory …

The full text of the Commissioner’s blog post can be found here.

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