2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Dr Emma L. Briant
11 September 2019
Dear Dr Briant,
Thank you for your e-mail of 18 August requesting information ‘regarding whether the Office
for Security and Counter-Terrorism has used in its development of public communication
programmes in 2017-19, any research reports received from the US Global Engagement
Center,’ and ‘whether any content or messaging distributed has been sourced originally from
the Global Engagement Center’.
Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.
We can neither confirm nor deny whether the Home Office holds the information that you
We have applied the NCND principle by virtue of sections 24(2) - national security, and
27(4)(a) - international relations of the FOIA.
Section 24(2) and 27(4)(a) are qualified exemptions and as such section 17(3) of the FOIA
requires us to conduct a Public Interest Test when considering a qualified exemption. In this
case the public interest falls in favour of neither confirming nor denying. An explanation of
the public interest test is set out in the attached Annex.
This response should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you have
requested is or is not held by the Home Office.
If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of
our handling of your request by submitting a complaint within two months to email@example.com,
quoting reference FOI: 55087
If you ask for an internal
review, it would be helpful if you could say why you are dissatisfied with the response.
As part of any internal review the Department's handling of your information request will be
reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. If you remain
dissatisfied after this internal review, you would have a right of complaint to the Information
Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom of Information
Annex: Public interest test in relation to section 24(2) and 27(4)(a)
Some of the exemptions in the FOIA, referred to as ‘qualified exemptions’, are subject to a
public interest test (PIT). This test is used to balance the public interest in disclosure against
the public interest in favour of withholding the information, or the considerations for and
against the requirement to say whether the information requested is held or not. We must
carry out a PIT where we are considering using any of the qualified exemptions in response
to a request for information.
The ‘public interest’ is not the same as what interests the public. In carrying out a PIT we
consider the greater good or benefit to the community if the information is released or not.
The ‘right to know’ must be balanced against the need to enable effective government and
to serve the best interests of the public.
The FOIA is ‘applicant blind’. This means that we cannot, and do not, ask about the motives
of anyone who asks for information. In providing a response to one person, we are
expressing a willingness to provide the same response to anyone, including those who might
represent a threat to the UK. Section 24 (National Security):
(1) Information which does not fall within section 23(1) is exempt information if exemption
from section 1(1)(b) is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.
(2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, exemption from section
1(1)(a) is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.
Section 27 (International Relations)
: Section 27(1) provides that information is exempt information if its disclosure would, or would
be likely to, prejudice:
(a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other state;
(b) relations between the United Kingdom and any international organisation or international
(c) the interests of the United Kingdom abroad; or
(d) the promotion or protection by the United Kingdom of its interests abroad
. Considerations in favour of neither confirming nor denying whether the information
is held or not held
There is a public interest in neither confirming nor denying whether the information is held
or not held. Openness in government increases public trust in, and engagement with, the
government. In neither confirming nor denying whether the information is held or not held
could enhance the openness of government and help the public understand the
government’s approach to counter terrorism issues, including its communications
programmes. Considerations against neither confirming nor denying whether the information is
held or not held
The requested information relates to the development of public communications
programmes for the Home Office. Delivery of the UK’s counter-terrorism objectives and
policies relies on the sharing and exchanging of confidential information and views, and full
and frank discussions, between the UK and other countries including key partners in the
fight against terrorism. Such discussions take place on the basis of an expectation of
confidentiality. The UK’s international relations, and our ability to conduct frank discussions
and to request and utilise information from our allies, could be prejudiced if it is either
confirmed or denied that the information is held or not held. Countries that have previously
shared information and views with the UK in confidence would be less willing to do so in the
future for fear that such information was either confirmed or denied that the information is
held or not held. And, this could prejudice the UK’s relations with the particular countries
concerned. This could also prejudice the UK’s ability to promote and protect its interests
overseas, and could inhibit the effective development of policies and communication
programmes in support of that objective where this relies on the ability to conduct full and
frank discussions in confidence with our international partners. Balance of the public interest test
In applying the PIT we have concluded that the public interest is best served by neither
confirming nor denying that the Home Office holds the information you have requested
because to do so may undermine national security and the UK’s relationship with our