I mentioned last month that I had sent a Freedom of Information Request to the MOD about the Army’s role in the Jean Charles De Menezes case.
The MOD has now replied refusing to answer any of the questions I asked. One of the exemptions relied on by the MOD, 44(2) looks as if it might be related to contempt of court, presumably a reference to the current proceedings against the Metropolitan Police. One would hope that case will produce some of the answers I was looking for.
I expected the court case would affect the reply (especially questions 4,5 and 6 below), but from looking at the other exemptions mentioned it seems pretty clear that the Freedom of Information Act excludes the kind of questions I wanted to ask pretty comprehensively.
I have nevertheless set out the substantive part of the reply below, as an indication of the kind of questions to which we are not allowed an answer. The lack of an answer to questions 1,2 and 3 especially, is perhaps an indication of the lack of accountability of some elements of the state for their role in events which led to the death of an innocent man.
Note: I’m indebted to SpyBlog for the inspiration for questions 7,8 and 9.
Request for Information – Stockwell Shooting
I am writing in response to your e-mail dated 31 August this year in which you requested information about events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes on 22 July 2005. Your e-mail has been considered to be a request for information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
I will take your questions in two blocks:
1. What reviews or inquiries have been undertaken into the role of Army personnel in the events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes on 22 July 2005?
2. What were the conclusions of any such reviews or inquiries?
3. What, if any, disciplinary action has been taken against Army personnel as a result of the events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes?
4. What co-operation has the Independent Police Complaints Commission sought and received from the Ministry of Defence, the Army and from individual MOD or Army personnel?
5. Were any MOD or Army personnel interviewed under caution by the IPCC Inquiry?
6 Has the Army Prosecuting Authority considered any prosecutions as a result of the events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes?
Your request has been considered under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and in reliance on the exemptions in sections 23(5), 24(2) and 44(2) of the Act I neither confirm nor deny whether the MOD holds any information relevant to your request. To the extent that Section 24(2) applies, we have determined that in all the cirumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exclusion of the duty to confirm or deny outweighs the public interest in confirming whether or not the information is held. To give a statement of the reasons why these exemptions apply would involve the disclosure of information which would itself be exempt. Therefore, under section 17(4) of the Act, I am not obliged to give such a statement.
7. Is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment subject to monitoring by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000?
8. Is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment subject to scrutiny by the Intelligence Commissioner under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000?
9. Is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment subject to scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security committee of Parliament?
We are unable to release the information we hold relating to the Special Reconaissance Regiment (SRR) as the information in question relates to UK Special Forces, of which the SRR is part. Therefore it is exempt from disclosure under section 23(3)(d) of the Freedom of Information Act.