DfE spent £13k on legal advice after FOI for Gove’s private emails

DfE spent £13k on legal advice after FOI for Gove’s private emails

The ICO recently decided that the data amounts to departmental business and should be revealed

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The Department for Education (DfE) spent some £12,539.50 on legal advice relating to a freedom of information (FOI) request for data in education secretary Michael Gove’s private emails.

Last September the Information Commissioner’s Office had written to the DfE raising concern about its handling of an FOI made by the Financial Times, as it believed that Gove had been using his personal account to circumvent such procedures.

The ICO later decided that the DfE would have to respond to the FOI request because the details in the private emails amounted to departmental business.

Education minister Elizabeth Truss has now revealed that the department spent nearly £13,000 on legal fees and, despite the debacle, also said that Gove would continue to “use equipment supplied by the department and his own IT equipment as appropriate, depending on his location and circumstances.”

The Information Commissioner said that the time that this was a “novel” case and one which may not have been anticipated when the FOI Act was passed, and his decision was based upon the fact that most of the information in the email amounted to the business of the education department.

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