August 2006 Archives

Finally, after over a year and four months, the Information Commissioner has issued a Decison Notice regarding our complaint about the Office for Government Commerce's refusal to publish the Stage Zero Gateway Reviews of the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme.

Basically, the Information Commissioner has ruled in our favour, and has dismissed the OGC's public interest exemption claims under "Section 33 - audit functions" and "Section 35 - formulation and development of government policy."

The OGC have 28 days to lodge an appeal with the Information Tribunal, or else they must, by law, disclose the requested information within 35 calendar days.

Read the full text: Information Commissioner Decision Notice re OGC Stage Zero Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme (11 pages)

Apart from shedding some light on the controversial Idenity Cards Programme, which the Information Commissioner deems to be of such national impact on the general public, that more transparency and open government is required, this ruling is also notable for the way in which the OGC's excuse for secrecy, namely that publication might reduce the frank and open discussions which a Gateway Review collates and analyses anonymously. The Information Commissioner basically cited the Civil Service Code back att the OGC - it is the duty of Civil Servants to be frank, open and honest with their best and most professional opinions and advice, at all times, and publication of Gateway Reviews should make no difference to this.

This is highly significant, as even Select Committees of the House of Commons, such as the Public Accounts Committee or the home Affairs Committee have not been given access to OGC Gateway Reviews, even in private.

The OGC even tried to prevent the Information Commissioner from sending him a hardcopy of the Gateway Reviews, but eventually had to relent.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog @spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver. - FOIA request submission and publication website from

Campaign Buttons

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Amnesty International 's campaign

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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Recent Comments

  • wtwu: The ICO has now published this Deciaion Notice as a read more
  • Julian Todd: What a load of whitewash. The locations would tip-off the read more
  • eBuster: I made a request under the freedom of information act read more
  • Geoff Hillyard: Thank you for this letter 2 comment. I am not read more
  • Benjamin Wright: FOIA requesters, such as activists in Ann Arbor, MI, are read more
  • wtwu: @ GF - thanks for spotting that error - two read more
  • GF: Actually, it looks like it's exactly 18 months (not 16) read more
  • Anon: This is getting quite exciting now. Given how bad the read more
  • Konstance Hill: you might want to have a talk to us about read more
  • Don Mitchell: Thank you, Spy Blog, I am sure you helped. The read more

February 2010

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