Michael Gove loses FOI battle over emails
Education Secretary Michael Gove today lost the latest round in his freedom of information battle to keep details of emails from his personal account secret.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled that the emails were covered by the Freedom of Information Act because the messages dealt with departmental business.
He told the Department for Education either to release the information requested or issue a formal refusal notice setting out why it is being withheld.
Reports last September suggested that Mr Gove had been using a private email account named "Mrs Blurt" rather than his departmental account to discuss government business with advisers.
Mr Gove has been resisting the release of the information on the grounds that ministers' personal email accounts are not covered by the Act.
A spokesman for Mr Graham's office said: "The Commissioner's decision is that the information amounted to departmental business and so was subject to freedom of information laws, being held on behalf of the Department for Education.
"The Department is now required either to disclose the requested information - the subject line of the email and the date and time it was sent - or issue a refusal notice in accordance with the FOI Act giving reasons for withholding it."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "We are studying the decision notice issued by the Information Commissioner and considering an appeal."
The department has 28 days to appeal to the Information Tribunal against the decision.
In a statement, the Campaign for Freedom of Information said: "The decision closes off two potentially vast loopholes which would have allowed industrial scale evasion of the FOI Act.
"The Commissioner has made it clear that government business carried out via private email accounts is subject to FOI - otherwise all departmental business would have switched to Hotmail accounts.
"Information about 'political' discussions is also covered by the Act, contrary to the department's claims. What is protected is 'party political' material, which is deemed to be held on behalf of a political party rather than Government itself.
"The business of government is always political. That cannot be enough to remove it from FOI."
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Two bailed after arrest over Woolwich attack Twitter comments
Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
Men arrested after RAF jet is scrambled to escort Pakistan Airlines passenger plane to London Stansted Airport
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.