Neither the Ministry of Defence nor the Home Office will reveal its evidence to the Independent Review of Administrative Law. The review follows the Government’s manifesto commitment to ensure that judicial review was ‘not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays’ as well as more recent attacks by prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel on ‘lefty lawyers’ and ‘do-gooders’.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Law Society’s Gazette asked both government departments for their submissions. Monidipa Fouzder reported how the directorate of judicial engagement policy at the MoD claimed ‘all the information’ was ‘exempt from disclosure under section 36(2)(c) of the FOIA, because in the reasonable opinion of the Ministry of Defence’s qualified person, its release would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs’ The Home Office similarly refused to disclose their submission when asked by the Gazette.
Fouzder pointed out that section 36 was a qualified exemption ‘which means that the decision to disclose the requested material is subject to the public interest test. The Home Office also claimed that the release ‘would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs’ and that as ‘the panel has not yet reached any conclusions’ the call for the release on the underlying evidence was ‘not particularly strong’.
Robert Buckland QC told the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on 8 December 2020 that any proposals would emerge in the spring.