Purdah vs FOIA

Yes, that old chestnut.

Personally, I confess, I did not know which should or would apply in the run-up to an election, so I phoned a friend.  It was not long before an answer was forthcoming.

I turned to page 7, as suggested, and this is what it says”

FOI requests

9. Requests which would normally be covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) must be handled in accordance with the requirements of the Act, and deadlines set therein. Where the application of the public interest balance requires more time, that is permitted under the Act but there is no general power to defer a decision.

10. Where a request needs to be considered under FOIA it will not normally be possible to get back to the Parliamentary candidate, or others within 24 hours and he or she should be advised of this as they may wish to submit a request more in line with paragraph 8 above.

Whilst the two paragraphs above are Cabinet Office guidance in relation to a General Election, surely the general principles must hold true for all and any elections.

If that is true then officials such as Police and Crime Commissioners should not be crying “Purdah, can’t do that” in relation to perfectly reasonable Freedom of Information requests.

I, for one, will most certainly be quoting the above Cabinet Office Guidance if any of my requests are declined on the grounds of Purdah, and I hope that you would all do the same. 

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