HL Deb 26 July 1999 vol 604 cc147-8WA
Lord Simon of Glaisdale

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 12 July (WA 9) concerning the investigation of leaks of official information:

  1. (a) why it has been "the normal practice of successive governments not to disclose information on the outcome of investigations";
  2. (b) how "the normal practice" has been modified in the light of the White Paper, Your Right to Know (Cm 3818, December 1997);
  3. (c) how many investigations have taken place since December 1997; and with what result;
  4. (d) in what circumstances "the normal practice" is not followed; and
  5. (e) on how many occasions, and when, has "the normal practice" not been followed. [HL3669]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

Successive governments have taken the view that the effectiveness of both leak investigations and the security procedures employed to prevent leaks could be seriously undermined by the disclosure of information about the conduct and outcome of investigations. This view is in accordance with exemptions 4 and 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

In a small number of cases, such as that involving the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, Ministers have decided to announce the outcome of a leak investigation on the basis that disclosure of some limited information would be justified in the public interest. Such decisions are made by Ministers on a case-by-case basis. There has been no change to the normal practice as a result of the White Paper Your Right to Know.

There have been 40 leak investigations in government departments, including those in which an independent investigator was employed, since December 1997.