When was the PM first advised to lock the country down

Amanda Hart made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Prime Minister's Office

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Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Prime Minister's Office,

Please kindly provide all documents sent to the PM from 1st December 2019 to 31st March 2020 recommending the country is put into lockdown due to Covid-19. We're looking for clues as to when the PM was first advised to lock the country down because of the virus.

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK lies and Corruption.

FOI Team Mailbox, Prime Minister's Office

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  FOI2020/06927

Dear AMANDA HART

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received
on 30/5/2020 and we are considering if it is appropriate to deal with
under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

When corresponding with the Cabinet Office, you may wish to be aware of
how we treat your personal Information.  This is set out in our personal
information charter, at the following
link: [1]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

 Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [2][Number 10 request email]

References

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Dear Prime Minister's Office,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Prime Minister's Office's handling of my FOI request 'When was the PM first advised to lock the country down'.

You've failed to supply a valid response to our request (your code FOI2020/06927) so you now have a final opportunity to find out what went wrong and to provide this information before we put the matter in the hands of the Information Commissioner.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK lies and Corruption.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Send to ICO 22nd September 2020

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Reported to ICO 9th September 2020 since there has been no attempt by the office to comply with the Act.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO has given authority 10 working days to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. Ref IC-55645-V5L9

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Ten working days has expired with no response. Passed back to ICO ref IC-55645-V5L9.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO contacted us to let us know the Prime Minister's Office has failed to engage with them. As they have not responded to us either the ICO will prepare a decision notice.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO contacted let us know PM's office provided her with a response. You can see PM's office haven't posted it here. They're still trying to get out of releasing the information.

In March 2020 we know 4486 people died in England and Wales with a primary cause of Covid-19 Coronavirus listed on their death certificate. https://d.pr/f/6QQ156

We already know that the Prime Minister was told to put the country into lockdown 2 weeks before he acted. Had he done so some of those people would still be alive today. It would be more damning If it turns out he was told to lock down prior to that too though. The public have a right to know the other times when the Prime Minister was told to put the country into lockdown so relatives can know things could have been different and loved ones could still be alive.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

IC-70696-Q4X0

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Chased ICO 16th Dec 2020 IC-70696-Q4X0

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO advised us they were applying to take hold of the information we seek.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Submitted further evidence to ICO in support of the information being released IC-70696-Q4X0.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Informed ICO 4th March 2021 that the information requested has still not been supplied. IC-70696-Q4X0.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Provided further evidence to ICO showing why this needs to be released given the lives lost between January and the beginning of April when people were infected with Covid-19 prior to the lockdown of 23rd March 2020. ONS deaths https://d.pr/f/mVyzr8 shows the number of UK people who died of Covid-19 in the relevant period. Relevant tabs: Weekly figures 2020; Covid-19 weekly registrations; Covid-19 Weekly Occurrences; UK Covid-19 weekly reg; Covid-19 daily registrations; and most notably Covid-19 daily occurrences which includes figures for January and February 2020. Plus article in which Mr Johnson finally admits he should have locked down sooner. https://web.archive.org/web/202103151610... https://d.pr/i/yrs2qk

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Informed ICO 15th April 2021 that the information requested has still not been supplied. IC-70696-Q4X0.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

20th April 2021 Received update from ICO on this matter IC-70696-Q4X0

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Requested an update on this case from ICO.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO Decision Notice expected to be issued in the next couple of weeks.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Decision Notice issued 18th March 2022.
"The public authority must disclose the requested information, with the exception of the information contained in paragraph 14 of the withheld information, which can be redacted, within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court." Inform ICO if this is not produced by 22nd April 2022.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Informed ICO that Cabinet Office have failed to respond.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Chased ICO IC-70696-Q4X0.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO have informed us the government wishes to appeal the decision as it doesn't want the public knowing the answer to this.

Gadawodd Dave Farthing anodiad ()

The most corrupt government in our history

Gadawodd WhatDoTheyKnow anodiad ()

We believe this case may be listed at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

under reference IC-70696-Q4XO (note the O at the end, not a 0 as cited above)

At the time of writing there were no hearing details.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

On 11th August 2022 the Cabinet Office contacted us privately requesting the agreement of a consent order. If they release the date when the PM was first advised to lock the country down that would satisfy us.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Despite the above communication we have not received the information from them.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

The Cabinet Office have today provided the information we sought: "..we are able to confirm to you the date when the Prime Minister was first advised to put the UK into ‘lockdown’, which the Cabinet Office refers to as the comprehensive 'stay at home' restrictions announced on 23 March 2020. The date of this advice was 23 March 2020."

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

We have asked the office to check this again due to this piece by Channel 4:
https://www.channel4.com/news/uk-governm...

Channel 4 News has seen a report, prepared for one of the scientific committees, which advised the government in the starkest possible way to implement a lockdown – a full two weeks before the official announcement was made.

The leaked paper, dated 9 March, appears to be written for the modelling group which feeds into the government’s scientific advisers, SPI-M. It warns that the UK government should abandon its mitigation approach for intense control measures – such as lockdown – in response to the Covid-19 epidemic.

The paper, by Steven Riley, professor at Imperial College London, finds that mitigation – the strategy the government was following at the time – would lead to 1.7 million deaths.

Professor Riley advocated a change of strategy to that seen in Hong Kong, Japan, Italy and elsewhere of “successful ongoing control”, i.e. lockdown.

The document states that it was intended for the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group of Modelling (SPI-M) two weeks before the prime minister announced the lockdown.

In the paper the professor wrote: “The UK is currently planning a mitigation response to the COVID-19 epidemic rather than ongoing containment. This strategy is informed by prior modelling studies and analysis of the severe 1918 influenza pandemic. The primary benefit of mitigation is that the epidemic will be over more quickly than might otherwise be the case, with the population having acquired herd immunity and also having experienced a relatively low peak.

“Here, we use simple compartmental models and recent infection fatality rate estimates for the UK to explicitly examine the implications of the UK population responding to a severe pathogen more strongly than did populations in 1918. We show that critical care facilities in the UK would be saturated quickly.

“If populations spontaneously reduce transmission close to threshold values when this occurs, any possible benefits of attempting mitigation are lost. The country would then have to either struggle on to the availability of a vaccine without a functioning health system or attempt the most stringent possible interventions to lower incidence back to containment levels.

“Over the same period of time, either of these scenarios would likely have far greater economic costs than would result from an immediate switch now to ongoing containment. These results directly support current advice from the World Health Organisation and are consistent with policy decisions made by China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and most recently Italy. Even if ongoing containment were to fail, we would have gained time and knowledge with which to decide our next strategy.”

Professor Riley concludes: “Essentially, our choice is whether to live with relatively high levels of infections and to let the virus decide our social structure for the next 18 months, or for us to find a way to live such that we keep levels of infection low and our social structures as close to normal as possible.

“These results could be disheartening to those planning a response to COVID-19 epidemics. However, we suggest that they may also be a powerful positive motivation for action. The model results here do no more than reinforce the findings of the WHO China Mission and validate the strategy adopted by Chinese health authorities in or around the 23rd of January 2020; and then subsequently by Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.

“We suggest that they are strong evidence with which to abandon mitigation strategies, justified in any way by the possibility of a short epidemic. Governments need to devote the entirety of their attention and resources to creating viable ongoing solutions to the presence of this virus. We suggest that the first step is to adopt stringent fixed-term social distancing so as to give time for detailed planning the rapid development of any accompanying technology.”

Channel 4 News asked Downing Street for a comment, but they passed us to the Government Office for Science – and we have not yet heard back from them.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Complaint issued to ICO.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO satisfied with response