To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the non-disclosure of the details of a meeting between Lord Brownlow of Shurlock Row and Oliver Dowden on the grounds that releasing the information would not be in the public interest, what are the criteria for deciding whether or not something meets the public interest test; who is responsible for that decision; and who took the decision not to release the information in this particular case.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Freedom of Information team assess requests and undertake the relevant public interest test on a case-by-case basis, aligned to the guidance set out by the Information Commissioner’s Office. This request was withheld under Section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and therefore requires a “qualified person” to provide their “reasonable opinion” on its publication. In this instance, the qualified person was the Secretary of State. Whilst the Secretary of State as the qualified person must give the required opinion, in line with the ICO guidance, DCMS civil servants carried out the preparatory work leading up to this decision.