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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

UK and Australia cabinet documents in stark comparison.

The contrast with Australia is marked- for all the preciousness here about the need for cabinet documents to be virtually inaccessible for 30 years, the UK Information Tribunal has upheld a decision by the Information Commissioner that cabinet minutes of the decision to commit troops to the war in Iraq, particularly the legal advice from the Attorney General, were not exempt and should be released in response to a Freedom of Information application. As mentioned previously the UK Freedom of Information Act contains no specific "cabinet document " exemption and the test required an assessment of the public interest in disclosure or non-disclosure.

See Martin Rosenbaum and Nick Robinson's Blog for neat summaries and a link to the decision. But it may not be over yet- an appeal or a ministerial veto/ certificate (never previously used in the UK) may still be in the offing.

Unless the system changes in the meantime similar Australian documents about the decision to commit to the war in Iraq are likely to surface in .... 2033

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