Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cabinet secretary's evidence in Iraq cabinet minutes appeal

Sam Coates, The Times' chief political correspondent, has posted a transcript of Sir Gus O'Donnell's evidence before the Information Tribunal on his blog The Red Box.
Gus O'Donnell on leaks, secrecy and why Alastair Campbell was wrong to publish his diaries

In a drab office block in Southwark yesterday civil service head Augustine Thomas O'Donnell - Sir Gus to most - took the witness stand at the Information Tribunal to argue why minutes of Cabinet discussions before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 should not be released.

For FOI watchers and civil service nerds, I've posted as full a transcript as was possible below.

Defending his decision not to release the documents in an age where confidential Cabinet discussions are "frequently" (his word) leaked in memoirs, biographies and in the media, he took aim against Alastair Campbell for his diaries The Blair Years.

I made clear to Alastair in the letter I wrote that I very much regret this book is being published at all. I was against it. I thought that it was wrong of someone in the position of Alastair to be publishing what he did. It’s one thing for ministers, another for special advisers.
Read the entire transcript on Sam's blog.

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