For the first time since the introduction of the UK’s Freedom of Information Act, the Justice Secretary has decided to use the ministerial veto option to prevent the publication of Cabinet minutes from 2003. The minutes in question relate to the Cabinet’s discussion of the legality of going to war with Iraq.
The Information Commissioner had already ruled that the minutes should be released; the Government appealed to the Information Tribunal for a review of that decision, and the Information Tribunal rejected their appeal. Interestingly, the Justice Minister had a choice: he could have taken the Information Tribunal’s decision to the High Court – but instead has peremptorily vetoed it, guillotining the legal process.
This will do little to quell the suspicions of those who believe that the minutes would show that the public were misled about the decision to invade Iraq.