Friday, April 07, 2006

al-Jazeera memo

My application for an internal review related to my request for the al-Jazeera memo is having the problems I expected - their deadline for response has extended again.

Dear Mr Wood,

Further to our earlier correspondence with you, I am writing to advise that the Cabinet Office has not yet completed its response to your internal review request of 23 January. We do envisage, however, providing you with a response by the end of April. We apologise for the delay.

The last response on the 17th Feb, read:
Thank you for your e mail of 14 February. We anticipate providing a response to your internal review of 23 January by Friday 31 March.If we are unable to provide a response by this date, we will let you know

The issue highlights a major problem with the Act that internal reviews are not a statuory process with a time deadline. The review process is only referenced at "Application for decision by Commissioner" in S50 2(a): (a) "that the complainant has not exhausted any complaints procedure which is provided by the public authority in conformity with the code of practice under section 45,". The S45 Code part IV states:
Authorities should set their own target times for dealing with complaints; these should be reasonable, and subject to regular review. Each public authority should publish its target times for determining complaints and information as to how successful it is with meeting those targets.
(The Code is non-statutory)

The Scottish Act in this respect states that public authorities must reply promptly and within 20 working days.

Whilst I ackowledge that complex cases such as this one may require detailed anaysis and deliberation it is not clear that this happening and the Cabinet Office would appear to be using this as a loophole to extend and extend.

See my previous posts

I also have made a request to the US state department

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