Home Office email reveals involvement of Ministers in FoI requests

An email sent by mistake from the Home Office to the BBC has revealed that freedom of information requests are often first reviewed by ministers.

The document also shows how such requests are first assessed for their controversy level.
A final decision is then made on whether or not to disclose information.

The Information Commissioner's Office says it intends to remind the Home Office of its obligation to comply with Freedom of Information legislation.

The document sent to the BBC separates requests into those that have to be seen by a minister before information is released, and those that do not.

It lists Freedom of Information requests made in September and makes clear whether the request has come from the media. This is despite the Freedom of Information Act stating that applicant's identities should not affect decisions.

The Home Office said the procedures revealed by the email keep ministers properly informed about what is being made public, and that the identities of applicants never affect FOI decisions.

Home Office reveals FOI policies (BBC News, 10 December 2008)