A controversial report into EU Freedom of Movement, written as part of the government's review of the balance of competencies within the European Union must be disclosed, the Information Commissioner has decided.
The report was due to be published at the end of 2013, but unlike the other eight reports published on the 13th of February 2014, the 'Single Market: Free Movement of Persons' report was held back, with reports from some sources claiming that it had been held back indefinitely.
The Home Office replied in March to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Jack Allnutt, Pirate Party European Parliament candidate for the North-West, stating that despite the upcoming European elections publication of the report was not in the public interest.
In the decision notice dated the 3rd July 2014, the Information Commissioner agreed with Mr Allnutt that disclosure was warranted, adding that the he "considers there to be a strong wider public interest in prompt disclosure of the report irrespective of the European election. The issue of immigration and the UK’s membership of and relationship with the EU is currently of great public interest, being at the top of the political agenda. Having reviewed the content of the report, the view of the Commissioner is that this public interest clearly applies to the report in question and that there is a very strong public interest in the disclosure of that information."
The Pirate Party's Europe spokesperson Jack Allnutt said:
"I am very pleased that the Information Commissioner has required the Home Office to disclose this report. The Government should have released this report along with the others, before the European Election, and without the ICO being dragged in to it.
They should not be allowed to withhold reports simply because the content is politically inconvenient for them. The UK's relationship with the EU is of vital public importance and we all deserve to have as much evidence as possible if we are to make informed choices about how we are governed and who our representatives are.
The Pirate Party and I are committed to an evidence-based approach to dealing with the problems this country faces, rather than a headlong ideological rush. It is time the Government did the same."
The Home Office has until the 31st July to appeal against this decision to the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) and until the 7th of August to publish the report.
Notes to editors:
- The reference number for this case at the ICO is FS50536984, a copy of the decision notice can be found at https://pirateparty.org.uk/sites/default/files/library/FS50536984_email_redacted.pdf [opens in new window]
- For a previous press release on this issue, see https://pirateparty.org.uk/press/eu-migration-governments-evidence-based-policy-looking-more-policy-based-evidence
- The Pirate Party is a pro-European political party, established in 2009. It is committed to a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, to campaign to remain members of the Union, and for the retention of the Pound Sterling. See previous press release from March here: https://pirateparty.org.uk/press/eu-where-we-stand
- Jack Allnutt stood in the European Parliament elections in the North-West constituency along with Dr Maria Aretoulaki and Dr George Walkden. The Pirate Party received 8,597 votes.