Internal review of response to request under the Freedom of
Information (FoI) Act 2000 by Steve Elibank (reference 15954)
Responding Unit: Information Management Service (IMS)
Original FoI request:
12 August 2010 (under reference 15802)
23 August 2010
30 August 2010
20 day apology letter:
28 September 2010
6 October 2010
Request for internal review:
6 October 2010
Subject of request
Mr Elibank submitted a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (“the Act”). Mr Elibank asked for information
about the logos of MI5, MI6 and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre
(JTAC). Mr Elibank was asked to clarify his request, which he did on 30
August. Mr Elibank’s clarified request is included at Annex A of this
The response by IMS
The response from IMS neither confirmed nor denied whether the
Home Office holds the information requested by virtue of section 23(5)
of the Act, which relates to information supplied by, or relating to,
bodies dealing with security matters.
The response explained that this section of the Act exempts the
department from its duty to say whether or not it holds the information
requested, adding that as a consequence of section 23(5) being an
absolute provision no further consideration is required.
The request for an internal review
Mr Elibank requested an internal review of the handling of his request.
Mr Elibank stated that ‘the logos of JTAC and MI5 cannot be secret
security matters. This is surely obvious.’
Mr Elibank’s clarified request was recorded as having been received on
31 August (the first working day following the date the request was
submitted, which was a bank holiday). Accordingly the deadline for IMS
to respond was 28 September. The response to Mr Elibank was sent
on 6 October and was therefore in breach of section 10(1) of the Act,
which requires a request to be responded to within 20 working days.
I note however that a letter was sent to Mr Elibank on 28 September
apologising for his request not being responded to within the time limit
required by the Act.
Mr Elibank’s request was acknowledged, which although not a
requirement of the Act, is considered good practice to do.
Mr Elibank was informed in writing of his right to request an
independent internal review of the handling of his request, as required
by section 17(7)(a) of the Act.
The response also informed Mr Elibank of his right of complaint to the
Information Commissioner, as set out in section 17(7)(b) of the Act.
Consideration of the response
I have considered the original Information Management Services
Mr Elibank requested information held by the Home Office in relation to
some of the bodies whose information is protected from disclosure
under section 23 of the Act. Whilst the logos of these bodies are
available in the public domain, no information has been officially
disclosed regarding the commissioning and design of these logos, or
the extent to which the Home Office (as parent department for the
Security Service and JTAC) was or was not involved in this process.
Section 23 is an absolute exemption which was designed to protect
from disclosure any information relating to the section 23 bodies,
regardless of whether or not such a disclosure would be damaging.
Previous case law has established that confirmation or denial as to
whether such information is held in itself represents the disclosure of
information about the section 23 bodies.
Unless it is in the public domain, confirmation or denial as to whether
such information is held by the Home Office would therefore involve the
disclosure of exempt information. It is for this reason that the Home
Office upholds its decision to neither confirm nor deny whether the
information you requested is held, by virtue of section 23(5) of the Act.
Advice and assistance
Having considered the response provided by IMS I am satisfied that
the Unit were correct in their citing of section 23(5) of the Act.
The Unit’s response of 6 October was provided to Mr Elibank outside
the 20 working day limit and so was in breach of section 10(1) of the
I am satisfied that sections 17(7)(a) and (b) of the Act were complied
As indicated in the response sent to the original request made under
the Act, the response in this report should not be taken as conclusive
evidence that the information requested is or is not held by the Home
Information Access Team
2 November 2010
Thank you for your request for clarification. The internet page I referred to has
since been taken offline for some reason, so please re-interpret my enquiry as
For the logos of MI5 (Security Service), MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) and
— When was the current logo, corporate style, graphics and branding
— Who designed it?
— How much were the designers paid for their services?
— Were other designers consulted? Was there competition? If so, who
was involved, and was any payment made to unsuccessful firms?
— Are there any "alternate" versions of the branding (as in, any
which were designed but not taken up), and if so, please supply an
— Please provide me with a copy of your logo guidelines, branding
manual or equivalent document.
— Please provide a vector/EPS/SVG copy of the logo. I am well aware
of the need for brand management, and this is solely for branding
I am aware that much of this information may be "owned" by other
government organisations, but if you happen to hold it as well (which I would
consider likely) then the FOI Act requires you to divulge it.