August 2007 Archives

Incredibly, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office have refused to disclose:

" the names and job titles of :

a) the Russian Federation Embassy or Consular staff in London or
elsewhere in the United Kingdom,


b) the United Kingdom Embassy or Consular staff in Moscow or
elsewhere in the Russian Federation,

who have been, or who are shortly being expelled, following the
diplomatic incident over the failure to extradite or prosecute the
suspect Andrei Lugovoi in the radioactive Polonium 210 murder case
of British citizen Alexander Litvinenko."

How, exactly are just the Names and the Job Tiles of British and Russian Diplomats to be considered as Personal Data ?

Every Embassy in London and in Moscow and therefore every important foreign Government, already knows these Names and (former) Job Titles, and so do lots of foreign journalists.

Why can't the FCO publish them themselves ?

I can confirm that the FCO does hold this information. However, we are withholding all the information you have requested under Section 40 (Personal Information) as the information is personal data relating to third parties, the disclosure of which would contravene one of the data protection principles. In such circumstances sections 40(2) and (3) of the Freedom of Information Act apply. In this case, our view is that disclosure would breach the first data protection principle. This states that personal data should be processed fairly and lawfully. It is the fairness aspect of this principle which, in our view, would be breached by disclosure. In such circumstances s.40 confers an absolute exemption on disclosure. There is, therefore, no public interest test to apply.

We have finally received a disclosure from the House of Commons authorities, regarding our Freedom of Information Act request about the the formerly public areas within the the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House, which are now within the boundary of a Protected Site under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 128 Offence of trespassing on designated site, as amended by the Terrorism Act 2006 section 12.Trespassing etc. on nuclear sites, as specified in the Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 930 The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007. specifically the map published in Schedule 8:


The paper hardcopy photopies reveal little of interest, except that it seems that the boundary around the main Palace of Westminster was originally going to extend some way into the River Thames, presumably along the as yet non-existent "security" boom or row of marker buoys.

How, exactly any Notices would have been fixed or how this law applies to the tidal River Thames is a mystery which is, at this point rather moot.

The memos and emails confirm that the Home Office was desperate to ensure that there was adequate signage so as to prevent the statutory defence of ignorance of the boundary from being invoked.

There are a couple of FOIA Section 24 National Security exemption redactions, which one could perhaps argue about, since Section 128 of SOCPA has nothing to do with real security, and everything to do with the suppression of political dissent, and of minor non-violent, non-threatening publicity stunts.

What is really infuriating, however, is the policy of censorship or redaction of the Names, Job Titles, Email Addresses , Postal Addresses and DirectTelephone Numbers of some of the officials in these memos and emails, on what seems to be spurious grounds

In each case, the full text of the memos and emails was disclosed (apart from some small Section 24 National Security redactions) but, for the most part, the people who were making the decisions and giving advice remain as faceless, nameless, contactless bureaucrats.

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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