Correspondence disclosed and deployed during SRA v Day and others

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Ministry of Defence should normally have responded promptly and by (details)

Dear Sirs

FOI Request

The following request is made to the Ministry of Defence ("the MOD") under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act").

Please send me a copy of the correspondence between the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“the SRA”) (of the one part) and the MOD or the Ministry of Justice or the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (of the other part) which the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ("the SDT") directed/ordered the SRA to disclose to the respondents in case no. 11502/2016 (SRA v Day and Others). The SDT's relevant direction/order is referred to in the following articles:

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/mod-le...

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/jul...

Comment

As you will know:

1. The SDT dismissed all allegations made in SRA v Day and Others in June 2017. The SRA's appeal was dismissed by the High Court (neutral citation [2018] EWHC 2726 (Admin)). The SRA has confirmed that it does not intend to mount any further appeal:

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/sra-ch...

2. The information requested above has already been deployed during public hearings before the SDT: I am not requesting any information which has not already been disclosed and deployed pursuant to the SDT's order.

I look forward to receiving the requested material within the next 20 working days.

Yours faithfully

Tim Bullimore

DJEP-JRs (MULTIUSER), Ministry of Defence

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Bullimore,

Attached is a response to your request under the Freedom of Information Act, which has been allocated MOD reference FOI201814074.

Yours sincerely,

Ministry of Defence
Directorate of Judicial Engagement Policy

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Dear Sirs

FOI2018/14074

Thank you for your email dated 5 December 2018.

I note that you have not explained (a) what steps you propose to take which you have not been able to take before now or (b) how it could be in the public interest not to disclose material which was deployed in open court in SRA v Day and Others. If the MOD did not wish such material to be released to the public, it should have applied for an order to that effect before or during the trial. It did not do so.

Matters have in any event now moved on in that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has confirmed that there is no Rule, order, direction or undertaking which prevents the SRA or Leigh Day from disclosing the relevant correspondence. The Tribunal has directed that requests for copies of documents used in SRA v Day and Others should be addressed to the parties. In accordance with that confirmation and direction, I have asked the parties to disclose the correspondence. You will appreciate that directions and confirmations given by the Tribunal are not affected by anything contained in the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please therefore confirm whether you have any objection to the correspondence being disclosed by the parties (or, if necessary, by the Tribunal). Please provide that confirmation by 12 December 2018. If you intend to make a belated application to the Tribunal for an order or direction which restricts or prevents the parties (or the Tribunal) from releasing the correspondence, please say so and send me a copy of that application.

Yours faithfully

Tim Bullimore

DJEP-JRs (MULTIUSER), Ministry of Defence

Dear Mr Bullimore,

 

I was suffering from IT problems yesterday so I am resending this email in
case you have not already received it.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Ministry of Defence

Directorate of Judicial Engagement Policy

 

From: Blackwell, Martin C2 (DJEP-JRs Casework 1) On Behalf Of DJEP-JRs
(MULTIUSER)
Sent: 10 December 2018 17:12
To: [FOI #530820 email]
Subject: Re: 20181205-FOI201814074-Freedom of Information Act
request-correspondence re: SRA v Day

 

Dear Mr Bullimore,

 

Thank you for your email of 5 December 2019, in response to the MOD's
letter of the same date.

 

It may be helpful to know that the purpose of the letter of 5 December
2018 was to notify you that the MOD has identified some information that
falls within the scope of your request but, because the information also
falls within the scope of the exemptions provided for at sections 31 and
35 of the Freedom of Information Act, the MOD is required to conduct a
public interest test to determine whether the balance of the public
interest lies in releasing or withholding this information.

 

In order to conduct this public interest test, the MOD is entitled to take
further time in addition to the initial 20 working day period. The MOD
will require a further 20 working days to conduct this test and therefore
intends to provide you with a full response at the end of that additional
period i.e. by 9 January 2019. If the MOD is unable to conclude the test
by that date, you will be informed and provided with a new date.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, the MOD is currently in the process of
undertaking the public interest test and no determination has yet been
made as to whether the information should be released or withheld.

 

Please rest assured that the MOD is treating your request with due care
and consideration.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Ministry of Defence

Directorate of Judicial Engagement Policy

 

 

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Dear Sirs

Thank you for your emails dated 10 and 11 December 2018.

With respect, you are misstating the effect of the FOIA 2000. The MOD is not "entitled" to take extra time. The obligation is to respond promptly and in any event within 20 working days. The MOD may claim a reasonable extension of time, where required, to consider the public interest test. That assumes that the MOD has a good reason for not being able to consider the public interest test during the period of 20 working days. You have not advanced any such reason. You have simply claimed an extension on the misconceived basis that you are "entitled" to do so because the exemptions upon which you would like to rely are qualified exemptions.

You have avoided answering my question about whether the MOD objects to the correspondence being disclosed by the parties (or the Tribunal). That question needs to be answered, because decisions about the disclosure of material deployed in open court at trial (as the correspondence was) are for the Tribunal (not the SRA or the MOD), which has confirmed that there is no Rule, order, direction or undertaking which prevents the parties from disclosing the correspondence. Please now answer the question: does the MOD object to the parties (or the Tribunal) disclosing the correspondence? That question needs to be answered immediately (not postponed until 9 January 2019). I look forward to receiving a clear answer to it by return.

Yours faithfully

Tim Bullimore

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