Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another victory for freedom of information in the UK

Last week, the UK government was forced to release the draft of the "dodgy dossier" after a ruling from the Information Tribunal. Now, the Information Commissioner has ruled they must also disclose the minutes of the cabinet sessions where Ministers discussed the legality of invading Iraq:

In an unprecedented ruling, Thomas said the papers about the controversial legal advice should be made public in part because "there is a widespread view that the justification for the decision on military action in Iraq is either not fully understood or that the public were not given the full or genuine reasons for that decision".

Thomas said the public interest in disclosure outweighed the principles that normally allow the government not to have to publish minutes of cabinet decisions.

The government is appealing, of course, and even if they lose they could sanitise the documents, but its an important victory for freedom of information nonetheless. Freedom of information laws exist to allow the public to delve into the workings of government, and so hold it to account - and in the case of the Iraq war, that's exactly what they're doing.