Sir Jeremy Heywood cannot be trusted to oversee the Brexit negotiations.

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Sir Jeremy Heywood cannot be trusted to oversee the Brexit negotiations.

Sir Jeremy Heywood

Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service

Sir Jeremy Heywood was appointed Cabinet Secretary following the announcement of Sir Gus O’Donnell’s retirement in December 2011. From September 2014 Jeremy also took on the title Head of the Civil Service.

Follow Sir Jeremy on twitter: @HeadUKCivServ

https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/author/sir-jeremy-heywood/

Is Sir Cover-Up working with pro-EU lobby? Er, he won't say! Jeremy Heywood is dragged into referendum row again after refusing to say if he's met with Remain campaigners

 
Sir Jeremy Heywood refused to reveal if he had met Remain campaigners
Eurosceptics submitted a Freedom of Information request to Cabinet Office
Wanted to know if he had held meetings with Britain Stronger In Europe
But the office replied to say information may not be in the 'public interest' 

By DANIEL MARTIN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR THE DAILY MAIL

PUBLISHED: 00:30, 30 March 2016 | UPDATED: 08:21, 30 March 2016

 

Britain's most senior mandarin has been dragged into the EU referendum row again after refusing to reveal if he had met Remain campaigners.

Eurosceptics submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Cabinet Office asking whether Sir Jeremy Heywood, who has been dubbed Sir Cover-Up, had held any meetings with figures from Britain Stronger In Europe.

They also asked for correspondence between the Cabinet Secretary and members of his private office with the campaign, and details of any phone conversations.

But the Cabinet Office replied that although it has information about such meetings, it would not yet be releasing them – because it may not be in the 'public interest'.

Officials said they could not reply within the usual 20 working days because they needed time to decide whether the information should be withheld.

It means it is unclear whether details of meetings or correspondence would be released until after the EU referendum on June 23 – or at all.

Sir Jeremy was dubbed Sir Cover-Up over his attitude to the Freedom of Information Act when he argued for the public's right to know to be watered down, saying it had a 'chilling effect' on government decision-making. Plans to dilute the Act have since been dropped by the Government after a campaign by the Daily Mail.

The new row comes a month after Sir Jeremy was accused of issuing guidance to civil servants instructing them not to help Brexit ministers with any information bearing on the European question.

The Freedom of Information request, submitted by the Vote Leave campaign, asked for 'any correspondence between Jeremy Heywood or members of his private office with any member of staff of the Stronger In campaign group'.

It also asked for a list of any meetings that he attended at which any Stronger In staff were in attendance, and the corresponding minutes of those meetings.

The request called for any correspondence Sir Jeremy has had with other members of the Government, whether official or ministerial, in relation to the Stronger In campaign group. And it asked for a record of any phone conversations the Cabinet Secretary has had with Stronger In.

A reply was received on Wednesday from the FOI team at the Cabinet Office, invoking Section 36 of the Act – which means information does not have to be disclosed if it refers to policy formulation.

 
The Cabinet Office said that although it has information about such meetings, it would not yet be releasing them - because it may not be in the 'public interest'.


It said: 'I can confirm that the Cabinet Office holds information relevant to your request, but I must advise you that I must extend the time limit for responding to your request. It is occasionally necessary to extend the 20 working day time limit for issuing a response.

'Information you have requested is exempt under Section 36 of the Act which relates to information which, if released, would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. Section 36 is subject to a public interest test and the Cabinet Office has not yet reached a decision on whether the balance of the public interest favours disclosure of this information.'

Section 36 is one of the parts of the FOI Act that Sir Jeremy had apparently tried to get diluted. The change would have meant that more documents could have been exempted than at present.

The official said he 'hoped' the response would be through by April 22 but might need more time.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3514813/Is-Sir-Cover-working-pro-EU-lobby-Er-won-t-say-Jeremy-Heywood-dragged-referendum-row-refusing-say-s-met-Remain-campaigners.html#ixzz4DU3dtKzO
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