ICO Decision: Request Filed With Cabinet Office

June 4, 2020

Acting Information Commissioner Answer Styannes issued Decision 04/2020, which relates to a request to the Cabinet Office  concerning the four Uighur men who arrived in Bermuda in June 2009.

A spokesperson said, “Acting Information Commissioner Answer Styannes issued Decision 04/2020, Cabinet Office, on Thursday, 28 May 2020.

“Decision 04/2020 relates to a Public Access to Information [PATI] request filed with the Cabinet Office for records of its correspondence, and correspondence of the former Premier, with the United States authorities concerning the four Uighur men who arrived in Bermuda in June 2009.

“Because no responsive records were found by the Cabinet Office, the requester asked the Information Commissioner’s Office [ICO] to independently review the reasonableness of the public authorities’ search.

ICO Decision 042020 Summary

“During the ICO’s review, the Cabinet Office took additional steps to find records responsive to the PATI Request but none were located. The Cabinet Office provided documentation of its initial search and the ICO verified its additional search efforts. The Acting Information Commissioner is satisfied that the Cabinet Office has now met the reasonable search requirement under the PATI Act.

“In Decision 04/2020, the Acting Information Commissioner emphasizes that to satisfy the reasonable search requirement, a public authority must show that it has taken all of the steps that a fair and rational person would expect to have taken under all circumstances to locate the records responsive to a PATI request.

“The Cabinet Office was not required to take further steps.

“This is the second decision that dealt with a conflict of interest on behalf of Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez, due to her prior work. The PATI Act lacks any provision for the Information Commissioner to recuse herself.

“With the parties consent, the ICO managed this investigation independent of Information Commissioner Gutierrez and the Decision was made by Acting Information Commissioner Styannes to avoid any appearance of bias.”

A full version of Decision 04/2020 follows below [PDF here]:

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  1. Kathy says:

    The US was not stupid enough to put pen to paper. Everything was done in the US and under strict confidentiality where even the British Government didn’t know.what was going on. The fact that they can’t find anything is not surprising.

    “Dr Brown said the absence of a paper trail at the Cabinet Office in relation to the agreement (see separate story) was not surprising, considering the highly secretive nature of the agreement, and the fact that he never sent any e-mails or other written correspondence about it.”

    “It was so quiet,” he said. “[Mr] Burch really handled it extremely confidentially. Confidentiality was requested and respected. Maybe [there was] something in writing between the US State Department and the Minister. I don’t know that to be the case.”

    Asked if he signed any paperwork, Dr Brown said there may have been a document detailing the “basics” that Bermuda would provide for the Uighurs, such as housing…

    The fact that they can’t find anything, however, does not relieve them from their duties to fulfill the request under PATI.