Clean Air in London and a governmental resistance to the FOI act…

23Jan11

With every FOI request, there is always that lingering risk that something may go wrong, despite the systems put in place to ensure that information that should be public, is public.

This seems to be the case with Clean Air In London.

A Freedom of Information request filed in January 2009, requesting “a copy of any minutes, papers, correspondence or other material relating directly to any meeting (including sent subsequent to it) that takes places between Lord Hunt [Environment Minister under the previous Labour Government] and Mayor Johnson”, has still not been completely successful, despite two years of battling.

In fact, two successful appeals, fronted by Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, have been ignored by the government, with them arguing that the information was covered by ‘legal advice privilege and litigation privilege’, despite the rulings “by the Information Commissioner’s Office in November 2009 and at an appeal heard by the First-tier Tribunal in May 2010”.

The information is so important because, according to Clean Air in London, “The sections of the documents which the Government has yet to release are believed to relate to the western extension of the congestion charging zone and air quality”, essentially key in their battle make the Government to recognise its poor response to air quality laws.

The Government is still appealing against the decisions, and it will be interesting to find out, should their appeal be unsuccessful, how long their resistance can last under the gaze of the Freedom of Information Act.

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