The intimate discussions about Iraq around the Cabinet table in the weeks leading up to the invasion in March 2003 must be made public, the Information Commissioner told the Government yesterday. It would be the first disclosure of Cabinet minutes recent enough for some members still to be serving in the Cabinet.
In a ruling that the Government is expected to fight to the High Court, the commissioner, Richard Thomas, decided that the Cabinet meetings should not be exempt under his interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act because of the “gravity and controversial nature” of the ministerial discussions.
If the Government loses appeals in the Information Tribunal and High Court it can impose a ministerial veto on the release of the minutes. There is no power to oppose such a veto.
Mr Thomas said that the Cabinet meetings took place between March 7 and March 17, 2003. The Cabinet Office confirmed that there had been two Cabinet meetings in this period and both are believed to have been attended by Lord Goldsmith, QC, then the Attorney-General.