Info chief forces war advice release

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has forced the Government to disclose more details of the Attorney General’s advice to Tony Blair over the legality of the Iraq war.

The move follows appeals by 17 different people, including a number of journalists, who had all used the Freedom of Information Act to ask for the advice given by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to Blair in March 2003.

The requests for the legal advice were among the first made under the FoI Act when it became law in January 2005.

This is the first time the Information Commissioner has issued an enforcement notice against the Government.

Much of the legal advice, which Goldsmith presented to the Government on 7 March 2003, was released by the Government last April following a partial leak.

While ruling that publication had gone “a considerable way to meet the disclosure requirement”, Thomas also ruled that some further material should be released.

Thomas has required Goldsmith’s department to publish more details of the “material that led to or supported”

the views made public by the Attorney General in a statement to the House of Lords on 17 March 2003.

However, Goldsmith was not required to disclose any “information which was preliminary, provisional or tentative, or which may reveal legal risks, reservations or possible counterargument”.

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