Release of cabinet minutes

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27 February 2008

The Information Commissioner has ordered the Government under the Freedom of Information Act to release minutes of two cabinet meetings where the decision to invade Iraq was made. There is an exemption in the Act that documents about the formulation of Government policy and ministerial communications are not always released, subject to a public interest test. At these meetings, the opinion of the Attorney-General on the legality of an invasion was discussed. 

The ICO said that the importance of such a decision and the need for transparency must take precedence. The Cabinet Office argued that the release of the minutes would undermine the confidentiality of Cabinet discussions and the concept of Cabinet collective responsibility. Not all of the minutes would be released. Some references in the minutes would have a detrimental effect on international relations.

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