Secret report on the Baby P case could be shared with MPs

Childrens Secretary Ed Balls could be forced to share with MPs a secret report on the Baby P case, the Evening Standard has learned.

Mr Balls told Parliament yesterday that a Freedom of Information ruling stopped him from releasing Haringey's “serious case review” to the Tories and Liberal Democrats even in private.

The minister said Whitehall lawyers had advised that giving the Opposition access to the confidential report —which includes details of the council's handling of the case — would risk identifying the professionals involved.

But the office of Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has contradicted the Government's legal view and believes that it is possible for Mr Balls to share the report as long as some names are “redacted” or blanked out.

Mr Balls stunned MPs yesterday when he said that his hands were tied by a 2006 ruling by Mr Thomas, when the Commissioner upheld another council's refusal to make public a similar “serious case review”.

However, the Standard understands that neither Freedom of Information rules nor the Data Protection Act would prevent the sharing of the report with Parliamentarians as long as its content is agreed by Mr Thomas and government lawyers.

An Information Commission source told the Standard that the Government was “comparing apples and pears” by referring to the 2006 case. “The law does allow for some information to be shared and Parliamentary scrutiny is very important. Data protection isn't a barrier to that,” the source said.

Government must share Baby P review (Evening Standard, 21 November 2008)