Dear Department for Education,

please disclose any guidance given to Michael Gove concerning the security of his communications, particularly any instructions concerning the secure use of, or access to DfE email services.

I am particularly concerned to learn that Mr Gove should be using the Gmail system for any Ministerial communications, and that he believes in some misguided way it might be 'private' in any sense of the word.

Gmail is hosted in the USA, hence would not be covered by UK RIPA/Data Protection Act/Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulations.

Given GMail's T&Cs and American law - the content of his email would be entirely and routinely processed to generate commercial intelligence, and the content of his Ministerial email would be immediately and fully accessible to the intelligence services of the United States Government (per the PATRIOT act).

All of which seems a bit damn careless to me, if you'll forgive me pointing out the obvious >>ESPIONAGE RISK<< in capital letters.

Yours in faithfully,
P. John

Department for Education

Dear P John

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible. For information, the departmental standard for correspondence
received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you
are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2011/0065437

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0370 0002288

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Dear Department for Education,

your response to my FoI request for 'Security Advice Given to Michael Gove', was due promptly and by 19 October 2011.

It is the 20 October today, and I have not received your reply.

Please could I have your response in the next 48 hours, or a complaint to the Information Commissioner will follow.

The details of my request are available online, here;

Yours faithfully,

P. John

P. John left an annotation ()

ICO complaint sent Thursday, 17 November 2011

Dear Department for Education,

assuming you have received a copy of the ICO Decision Notice I have before me (reference FS50425232) please provide the requested information as instructed without any further delay.

The decision notice states;

"The Commissioner's decision is that the DfE has breached section 10(1) of FOIA by failing to respond to the complainant's request within 20 working days. The Commissioner requires the public authority to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation.

- State which information it holds within the scope of the complainant's request, and

- Communicate the information it holds to the complainant and/or issues a refusal notice in respect of all or parts of the information it intends to withhold in accordance with section 17 of the FOIA.

The public authority must take these steps 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."

You have broken, and are presently breaking, the law.

Please comply with the Decision notice presently before you without any further delay.

Yours faithfully,

P. John

Department for Education

1 Attachment

Dear Mr John


Please find attached the Department’s response to your FOI request of 21
September. May I apologise once again for the delay in sending this to


Yours sincerely


Eve Trueman



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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Leigh Park Initiative left an annotation ()

perhaps the department is standing on its head? Half of the document that was eventually supplied is upside down. Does FOI require files to be the right way up?

Alex Skene left an annotation ()

Many apologies, that's WhatDoTheyKnow's PDF-to-HTML converter turning it upside down...

The original PDF as sent by the DfE is the correct way round.

Alex - WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer

Dear Department for Education,

thank you for your long overdue response. I was beginning to worry you weren't familiar with the FoIA that states a response is due within 20 days.

So, if I understand correctly, Mr Gove and his advisors were told; "DON'T use unofficial devices (such as your own/constituency PC/laptop/PDA) or unofficial services (such as internet email accounts like Hotmail or Google) to access or hold DfE Information"

... but he chose to ignore that advice?

And Mr Gove remains Secretary of State for Education, responsible for English literacy teaching & ICT policy in schools.

For the avoidance of doubt, that's a rhetorical question, not an FoI request.

Yours faithfully,

P. John

Department for Education

Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office from 7th - 21 June. Please contact my colleagues Fiona McConachie ([email address]) or Dinesh Patel ([email address],, who will be able to either deal with your email or direct it to the appropriate person if it is not for them.

Many thanks

Eve Trueman

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