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Foreign & Commonwealth Office refuses to disclose just the Names and Job Titles of the diplomats expelled over the Polonium-210 murder affair

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,

and

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.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office RuSCCAD W87 Main Building

[name of FCO Civil Servant]
DCO [telephone]
[FCO email]


20 August 2007


FOI REQUEST nnnn/nn

I am writing to confirm that the FCO has now completed its search for information in relation to your request under the Freedom of Information Act, which the FCO received on 23 July 2007. In that request you asked that we disclose the names and job titles of :

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

and

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.

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.


If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint, or request a review of our decision you should write to me at the above address. You have 40 working days to do so.

If you are not content with the outcome of that internal review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaint procedure provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF


Yours sincerely

[name of FCO Civil Servant]

Russia Section, RuSCCAD

Somehow we feel Yet Another Complaint to the Information Commissioner is likely to be brewing, after the Internal Review.

Comments

Keep up the good work of watching the watchers...

It is of course absurd that the names of the Russian diplomats are not released..one can see a case for the UK "diplomats".

All part of the stately saraband that the diplomats undertake - protecting each other's vitals... after all who knows when someone wants to defect ?

BTW I love the " the information is personal data relating to third parties, the disclosure of which would contravene one of the data protection principles. " asif the state worries about contravening the Data Preotection Act.


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