Tribunal ruling on release of ID card reports quashed

The High Court has quashed an Information Tribunal ruling ordering the release of independent reviews of the Government's controversial identity card scheme. The freedom of information case must now be re-assessed by a new Tribunal, the Court said.

The massive project is subject to periodic independent reviews of progress, called Gateway Reviews, by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). An activist and a Member of Parliament used the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to request the publication of two of those reviews, from 2003 and 2004.

The Information Commissioner said that the reviews should be published, as did the Information Tribunal when the case was appealed by the OGC. The High Court, though, has said that a new Tribunal must hear the case again because the Tribunal had made errors in its previous ruling.

The High Court has not said whether or not the information should be published, just that the decision must be made again on a different basis.

The Tribunal's first decision could not stand because it had been based in part on a report on the confidentiality of the Gateway Reviews produced by a Parliamentary Select Committee on Work and Pensions. This, said Mr Justice Stanley Burnton, put the Tribunal and the judiciary at risk of breaching the ancient right of Parliamentary privilege.

High Court quashes decision to release secret ID card reports (Out-Law, 14 April 2008)