Tuesday, March 08, 2005

UK decline to open 'Joint Sovereignty' files

Voice of Gibraltar Group (VOGG) in information act bid

VOGG members asking questions under the new UK Freedom of Information Act have been disappointed.

Paul Tunbridge VOGG said that “not surprisingly” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office seems reluctant to disclose the details behind the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw's statement to Parliament in which he said:

After 12 months of negotiation, we and Spain are in broad agreement on many of the principles that should underpin a lasting settlement. They include the principles that Britain and Spain should share sovereignty over Gibraltar.

The F&CO reply notes:

On 8 February 2005 you requested access under the Freedom of Information Act to the ‘principles’ that underpinned the Foreign Secretary’s 12 July 2002 statement to Parliament. I am writing to advise you that the information you requested falls under the exemption in Section 27(1)(a) and (3) of the Freedom of Information Act - International Relations. In applying this exemption we balanced the public interest in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosing it.

For Mr Tunbridge this does not diminish the ‘interest’ in Gibraltar of knowing what the proposed settlement that The Labour Government intended to “impose colonial style” on the Gibraltarians, without either consent or consultation. Neither should it stop other groups asking the question and demonstrating local interest in our future, he said.


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