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« Homogenisation is the root of all evil | Main | Madrid, 1995 - the story continues »

Mandarins flout the law

It seems that while Tony Blair was in power, a secret email system was put in place in Downing Street so as to avoid FOI laws. All manner of other breaches of FOI laws were also everyday occurrences.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham claimed secret documents were being destroyed and Whitehall officials were using private email addresses to evade scrutiny.

This is not much of a surprise to BH readers. It is also a commonplace here that the situation will not change until the law is amended to allow prosecutions of these breaches of the law - until the statute of limitations is extended the mandarins will continue to flout the law and to thumb their noses at the electorate.

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Reader Comments (12)

Hands up anyone who thinks the 'Team' don't communicate via back channels now.

It would be fascinating to see a traffic profile analysis of their official email accounts before and after Climategate.

Jul 17, 2012 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

So it's OK if you use your "personal" computer/email address for workplace communication?
That makes it "private"?

I thought that particular abuse had been stamped on?

Jul 17, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

It's just another variety of Data Denialism.

Jul 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme


The Information Commissioner has said that it's illegal, but I think Whitehall mandarins don't care.

Jul 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I am intrigued by the time it has taken for the use of private emails to come out regarding the previous government. It wasn't all that long into the current coalition government that ministers were being publicly reminded that they shouldn't be using private email accounts for public business.

It's not a secret or second email system though and I think that is what tripped up the media and police when it was raised while Blair was still PM at the time of the loans for lordship farrago. It is simply that there are computers in departments with no internet restrictions on them which allows people to access webmail accounts.

Jul 17, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

I suppose in the overall scheme of things (where the Prime Minister and his closest advisers are guilty of doctoring official intelligence reports to deceive parliament and start an illegal war, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have died), using an unofficial laptop to send an email from a personal account is small beer. It is still a clear breach of FOI legislation, and I would have thought it also poses a potentially serious security risk. Don't they know that it is not just google's bots that can read your emails?

Jul 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

When everybody has an email device in their pocket or handbag, this sort of law is unenforceable.

Jul 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

The disdain they have for the rule of law is demonstrated by the fact that in 2007 Lord O’Donnell is quoted as having said

“There is no second email system inside No10.”

And when Mr Blair was asked by MPs about the Number 10 email system he referred his questioners to Lord O’Donnell’s testimony.

Jul 17, 2012 at 12:39 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

Guido had twigged this five years ago, and proof turned up on June 27th this year as explained in

Jul 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

All evidence erased, just like the record of Blair's Parliamentary expenses - nice one Cherie.

Jul 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Perhaps the HoC should recall Blair and O'Donnell and question them again- a little more forcefully this time

Jul 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger


Jul 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

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