A month ago I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Cabinet office as follows:
Dear Prime Minister’s Office,
Under the Freedom of Information Act, I require to know the
1) Whether ministers, special advisors, civil servants and other
government personnel were coached or in any way given preparation
for their testimony to the Leveson enquiry.
2) Whether any such coaching/preparation was provided to
non-government witnesses, and if so, to whom.
3) How any such coaching or preparation was funded.
4) The cost of any such training or coaching.
5) By whom the training/coaching was carried out.
6) Any emails/texts sent from the private or official email
accounts and mobile phones of ministers, officials and other agents
regarding the above.
The response I received today:
2 July 2012
Dear Mr Walker ,
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS
I refer to your requests where you asked for information regarding any coaching
received for the Leveson inquiry.
I am writing to advise you that following a search of our paper and electronic records,
I have established that the information you requested is not held by the Cabinet
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to
quote the reference number above in any future communications.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request or
wish to request an internal review, you should write to:
Head of Knowledge and Information Management
1 Horse Guards Road
You should note that the Cabinet Office will not normally accept an application for
internal review if it is received more than two months after the date that the reply was
If you are not content with the outcome of your internal review, you may apply directly
to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner cannot
make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by
Cabinet Office. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner’s Office
I find it unbelievable that the government does not have on record who received coaching to the Prime Minister and other ministers, who provided it, and who paid for it! This information must be held somewhere, and the wording of the response, careful to specify only that the Cabinet office doesn’t have it without indicating who does, suggests to me that they know who has it and are hoping I won’t pursue.
It will take 20 working days to get a response to a new FOI request, so I want to send it to the right department and nail them. Any ideas who it’s likely to be?