Yesterday, Our Forests sent a formal request to the head of Defra’s Information Rights team, Brendan Walsh, for an internal review of Defra’s refusal to provide us with certain information as asked for in our July 2011 FOI request.
Read the letter: Letter – Our Forests request for Defra internal review
“In particular, we request an internal review of:
(a) the applicability of the exception in Regulation 12(4)(e) of the Environment Information Regulations 2004; and
(b) the reasoning applied by Defra in carrying out of the public interest weighing test.”
In other words..
a) are Defra right to apply EIR exception 12(4)(e) to an ‘internal document’ that is just a record of a meeting or call, contains factual information or that has already been disclosed outside of Defra?
b) why do Defra think it is appropriate to withhold information from the public on the grounds that:
1. if Defra disclose the information it might not be used correctly by the public (Defra knows best!)
2. that disclosure may lead to the public taking up Defras’ time inappropriately (you know, dealing with media enquiries and the like) or
3. that disclosure may lead to a public debate (!).
We have also taken the opportunity to ask for clarification of the following;
“Finally, and although not part of this request for internal review, we would also be grateful if Defra would clarify the following statement in its letter of 6th October 2011: “We have interpreted the expression ‘taking on’ as meaning ‘owning’ or ‘managing’ ’”. In particular, kindly inform us of the activities that you have interpreted the expression ‘taking on’ as not meaning, what you mean by ‘owning’ and ‘managing’. “
It is well worth reading the letter above in full, as it details our reasoning behind the review request. We will keep you updated with any developments.
Our Forests original Freedom of Information request (29th July 2011) and Defra’s delayed and somewhat lacking response (6th Oct 2011) can be found here: Finally! DEFRA Responds to Our FOI Request