David Cameron has today said he may try and change the FOI law to ensure the government’s veto is ‘clear’.
His comments come on the back of the Supreme Court’s decision which said that letters sent from Prince Charles to government ministers should be published.
The court said that the government could not block publication of the letters “merely because a member of the executive… takes a different view” to that of the courts. It would not be possible for a law change surrounding Environmental Information, as this is governed by European law.
Here is reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision.
David Cameron has said that he may try and change the law:
“This is a disappointing judgment and we will now consider how to release these letters. This is about the principle that senior members of the Royal Family are able to express their views to government confidentially. I think most people would agree this is fair enough.
“Our FOI laws specifically include the option of a governmental veto, which we exercised in this case for a reason. If the legislation does not make Parliament’s intentions for the veto clear enough, then we will need to make it clearer.”
Nick Clegg has said he believes the letters shouldn’t be published
Prince Charles' letters to ministers will be made public, but Nick Clegg thinks they shouldn't http://t.co/YXo87r54JG pic.twitter.com/t8PoDY6qcM
— LBC (@LBC) March 26, 2015
The Information Commissioner, Chris Graham said:
“This is a welcome decision, offering greater clarity on a law that, just ten years on from its implementation, is still in its relative infancy.
“The ICO will, of course, study the judgment very carefully and consider its implications, which appear to be far reaching, particularly around environmental information.”
“This is a matter for the government. Clarence House is disappointed the principle of privacy has not been upheld.”
The Campaign for Freedom of Information, who intervened in the case, said:
“This is a critical decision which strengthens the FOI Act. It says the courts not ministers normally have the last word. If the government disagrees with a ruling on good grounds it should appeal. The veto is not a trump card to be slipped out of a minister’s sleeve to block any embarrassing disclosure. Minister will now have to argue their case not impose it.”
11KBW legal practice said in a blog post:
“But more than this, it marks an important milestone in the development of FOI jurisprudence, as our highest court makes clear that, when it comes to the application of FOIA, Government cannot trump the decisions of the courts merely because it takes a different view of the facts of the case.”