Select Committee on Public Administration Second Report


Submitted by the Attorney General's Chambers

Thank you for your letter of 9 June addressed to Russell Hamblin-Boone. You asked for a fuller explanation as to why it was necessary to withhold the information in the circumstances of three particular answers.

Senator Pinochet

The information withheld concerned the content of meetings between a lawyer from the CPS and the Kingdom of Spain. As is explained in the answer, the relationship in extradition proceedings between the CPS and the requesting country is that of a private lawyer acting for a foreign client. As such, there is a clear duty of client confidentiality. That it is to say the information provided the client (the Kingdom of Spain) to the lawyer (the CPS) is confidential and covered by legal professional privilege. Information subject to legal professional privilege is exempt from disclosure under paragraph 4(d) of Part II to the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Second Edition) (1997)).

NATO Operations

This question asked the Attorney General to disclose external legal advice taken by Her Majesty's Government on the legality of NATO operations against Serbia. Such advice is subject to legal professional privilege. It is not discloseable under the Code for the reasons given in the preceding answer and I do not think that there is anything further that can usefully be added.

Hayes v. Attorney General

Question [88017] asked the Attorney General to place in the library copies of witness statements disclosed in the case of Hayes v. Attorney General. This request was refused because the statements are subject to legal professional privilege. As is mentioned under 1 above, information covered by legal professional privilege is exempt from disclosure under the Code. Such information is confidential between lawyer and client.

The following question [880818] asks if the Attorney General would list the documents disclosed and place copies in the library. This request was refused on the basis that compliance would breach the duty of confidentiality owed to third parties. This refusal is consistent with paragraph 4 of Part II of the Code, in particular sub-paragraph ©.

16 June 2000

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