The emperor's new openness: Attorney General's legal advice withheld

An appeal is expected over the decision not to release the Attorney General's advice in relation to military action against.

A statement released by the DCA outlines the main arguments for withholding the information. The document, entitled "Freedom Of Information Act 2000: Requests for disclosure of the Attorney General’s advice on the legality of military action against Iraq", is available on the DCA website. The government cited a number of exemptions including legal professional privilege ("this confidentiality promotes respect for the rule of law"), the information concerned the formulation or development of government policy and the information related to ministerial communications.

In a letter to the Press Association, Christopher Simson, the freedom of information officer for the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, said the advice was exempt under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.

The advice is seen as an important test for the FOI Act and government openness. It is widely believed that the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, failed to provide a proper justification for the invasion. The decision to withhold the information is expected to be appealled.

Advice on legality of war to remain secret (Financial Times, 26 January 2005)

Iraq War Legal Advice 'Exempt from Information Law' (The Scotsman, 26 January 2005)

Information Act fails to uncover war advice (The Independent, 26 January 2005)

Blair refuses FoI request for Iraq war legal advice (The Guardian, 26 January 2005)