This case concerns an application by a Guardian journalist, Rob Evans, for disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 of “advocacy correspondence” between Prince Charles and various Government departments. The Upper Tribunal ordered that it was in the public interest for this correspondence to be disclosed. The Tribunal’s decision was then overridden by the Attorney General, using a statutory power which enabled him to veto a Court judgment. Mr Evans brought a judicial review of that decision, which was dismissed by the Divisional Court.
The Court of Appeal has now allowed Mr Evans’ appeal, and ordered the quashing of the Attorney General’s certificate. This has the effect of restoring the Tribunal judgment requiring the correspondence to be made public. The Court of Appeal has found that there are only very limited circumstances in which it could be reasonable for a Government minister to overrule a finding made by an independent and impartial tribunal which has heard all the relevant evidence and produced a reasoned decision. It has also decided that the use of the veto power to overrule the Tribunal in relation to environmental information is contrary to EU law.
The full judgment can be read here: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/r-oao-evans-v-hmag-and-other.pdf
Dinah Rose QC, Aidan Eardley (1 Brick Court) and Stephanie Palmer acted for the Appellant, instructed by The Guardian’s legal department.
The Attorney General was represented by Jonathan Swift QC and Julian Milford, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor.
The Information Commissioner was represented by Timothy Pitt-Payne QC.