A couple of weeks ago I steeled myself to watch Andrew Marr* interview Tony Blair, mass murderer and Christian of the Catholic persuasion. Of all that slithered out of Blair's mouth, only two things I was prepared to accept as true. One of those things. Had the disciples of Islam on the eleventh of September, had the opportunity to murder three hundred thousand instead of three thousand, they would have done so gladly.
And the other? dropping a monumental clanger by implementing the Freedom of Information Act.
Not that he has that much to regret, not if we consider this response from Home Secretary Theresa May.
Home Office response to FoI request concerning meetings and activities undertaken in support of a possible case review McCann Exposure
13 September 2010
Information Access Team
Information Management Service
Financial & Commercial Group
On behalf of the Home Office Police Powers and Protection Unit (PPPU)
2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Switchboard 020 7035 4848
E-mail: Info.Access@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk
[name and email address redacted]
Our Ref: 14551
09 September 2010
Thank you for your e-mail of 24 March, 2010 in which you ask for the following information
Academic as they are, for it is the reply that concerns us here, the twelve questions can be found at mccannfiles.com. I do not promote liars here.
Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) and we can now provide you with a substantive response to your request.
I can confirm that the then Home Secretary met Mr and Mrs McCann in October 2009. Also present were two members of the Minister's Private Office and a Home Office Official. There were no subsequent meetings between Home Office Ministers or Home Office officials and Mr and Mrs McCann or any representative acting on their behalf, between then and the date of your letter.
I confirm that the Home Office holds some information relevant to remaining parts of your request but that, other than the information provided above, we consider that information to be exempt from disclosure under sections 31(1)(a) and (b), s.40(2) and s36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) of the Act.
Furthermore, we neither confirm nor deny that we hold any further information by virtue of Section 23(5) – information relating to an organisation listed in Section 23(3) of the Act. Section 23 confers an absolute exemption from our duty under section 1(1)(a) of the Act and does not require any further consideration. This response should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you have requested is or is not held by the Home Office.
The general policy of the Home Office is not to disclose to a third party, personal information about another person. Section 40(2) of the FOI relates to the handling of personal information under the Data Protection Act. The Home Office has obligations under that Act, and in law generally, to protect the personal data that it holds. Mr and Mrs McCann would have had a legitimate expectation that any meeting with the Home Secretary was a private meeting. We have therefore, concluded that such information as you have requested which relates to Mr and Mrs McCann’s participation in the meeting and any views or opinions expressed, is exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOI, on the grounds that the such disclosure would breach the first Data Protection Principle in that it would constitute unfair processing of their personal data. The same exemption applies in relation to the details of Home Office officials present at the meeting. Section 40(2) is an absolute exemption and does not require any further consideration.
Section 31(1)(a) provides that information is exempt if its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime, and section 31(1)(b) if it would potentially prejudice the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, and (in both cases) the public interest falls in favour of applying the exemption.
Sections 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) apply to information which, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, would if disclosed, be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice, or the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation. Section 36 is also subject to the supporting arguments of a public interest test.
Consideration of the public interest test in relation to these elements of the Act is detailed in Annex A.
If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of our handling of your request by submitting a complaint, within two months, to the address below, quoting the reference number at the top of this letter:
Information Access Team
Ground Floor, Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street
Alternatively you can e-mail:
If you ask for an internal review, it would be helpful if you could say why you are dissatisfied with the response. As part of any internal review the Department's handling of your information request will be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. If you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you would have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.
I apologise for the very long delay in replying to your request owing to the need to apply and fully consider the public interest test in this case.
Information Access Consultant
Isn't she a dear, a candidate for joining the flock methinks, but not tonight, soon perhaps.
* Just to say I really enjoyed Marr's History of Modern Britain. You can find it here on Google vids if you haven't watched the thing as yet.
Hard to say which I enjoyed the more, Marr's history of, or The Trial of Tony Blair. (Link updated)
An amazing two minutes if we consider the number of talking points the Woman touches upon. It may even sound a tad familiar towards the close.