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Risk register veto 'wrong'

15th May 2012

A report by Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, has deemed the government veto on the publication of the NHS risk register to be "unjustified".

pc doctor

The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley vetoed the publication of the register because he said it was "in the public interest".

He said last week that they had exercised the right to legally veto publication because of the need for a "safe space" to make policy developments. 

Mr Graham said MPs had changed government policy on freedom of information to block the publication of information concerning the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Information Commissioner called the decision - which was only the fourth time MPs have exercised their right to veto and the first time it has been used to block the release of a policy document - "a significant step change" for freedom of information.

The right to veto is meant to be used in "exceptional cases". However, the Information Commissioner's report said: "none of the criteria for 'exceptional cases'... are met in the present case".

It carried on to say that Mr Graham wanted "to record his concern that the exercise of the veto in this case extends its use into other areas of the policy process".

"It represents a departure from the position adopted in the Statement of Policy and therefore marks a significant step in the government's approach to freedom of information." 

 

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