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Jack boots out FoI request

Veto to keep skeletons in the Cabinet

Jack Straw

Straw’s rye move is barley legal

The Justice Secretary Jack Straw this week revealed that he was blocking a move to release minutes from the Cabinet meetings that led up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, due to ‘the damage that disclosure would do’ to confidence in the Cabinet system, by proving to the public how impressionable and unquestioning the nation’s top MPs really are.

The minutes cover the period of time known as ‘the long March’—the month when all the World knew war was coming, but then-PM Tony Blair was unable to announce it until the ink had dried on the dossiers, and Alistair Cambell had buried Dr Kelly’s pen. It is believed, however, that they would also reveal elements of the legal advice provided by the then-Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in which he assured the cabinet that any invasion was ‘a dead cert. Got the nod from Cheney, Stateside. Dickie, remember Dickie? Hey, new haircut, Tone? Lookin’ gooood!’

It was hoped that the notes would be released after the High Court upheld the Freedom of Information request. However, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, Straw can break out the little-known ‘tell the electorate where to shove it clause’, which permits a Government to whitewash over dodgy legal issues if there is a risk they might look bad afterwards.

The Tories have backed the decision in principle, saying that, whilst the veto was a transparent betrayal of transparent government by a transparently corrupt and self-serving New Labour, they would like to reserve the right to do the same once they gain power in the next general election. The Liberal Democrats told KTAB ‘People like information.’

Jack Straw has stood by his decision, claiming that it is vitally important the individual ministers’ opinions, which may have conflicted with the consensus they were eventually forced to stand by, are not revealed. However, he did concede that in this case it would probably be those who supported the consensus who would be most embarrassed.

 

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