openDemocracy also obtained ministerial diaries from Dominic Raab’s time as foreign secretary during the 2021 Afghanistan crisis. Raab had previously defended his decision to go on holiday as the Taliban advanced on Kabul, saying he continued working from a luxury seaside resort. But his diaries revealed that his workload was significantly reduced around that time.
Hancock’s diaries could provide further insight into how the government responded to the outbreak of Covid and sourced personal protective equipment (PPE).
openDemocracy has submitted multiple appeals to the information rights watchdog over government refusals to release the diaries.
Last February, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) supported our call for the release of Thérèse Coffey’s ministerial diaries, covering March and April 2020 – the same period that the request for Hancock’s diaries covers.
In its ruling, the ICO said that the Department for Work & Pensions was wrong to deem openDemocracy’s request as vexatious and said it did not accept that it was a burden on the government resources. “There is a legitimate interest in the disclosure of ministerial diaries,” it said.
And openDemocracy also complained to the ICO over the Department for Transport’s refusal to release parts of Grant Shapps’ ministerial diaries. When the ICO launched an investigation, the department changed its mind and decided to publish the documents.
openDemocracy has challenged the DHSC’s latest refusal to withhold Matt Hancock’s diaries and requested an internal review into the decision.
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