Jack Straw has announced that he is exercising powers under section 53 FOIA to prevent minutes of Cabinet meetings held in the period leading up to the Iraq war from being disclosed under FOIA. The announcement, which was made to Parliament on 24 February 2009, follows in the wake of the Information Tribunal’s decision in January 2009 that the minutes should be disclosed. It is understood that this is the first time the Government has used the powers of veto under section 53. Jonathan Swift of 11 KBW acted on behalf of the Cabinet Office before the Tribunal. 11 KBW’s Timothy Pitt Payne acted for the Commissioner.
Section 53(2) FOIA:
‘A decision notice or enforcement notice to which this section applies shall cease to have effect if, not later than the twentieth working day following the effective date, the accountable person in relation to that authority gives the Commissioner a certificate signed by him stating that he has on reasonable grounds formed the opinion that, in respect of the request or requests concerned, there was no failure falling within subsection (1)(b)’