Examination of Witnesses (Questions 336-339)|
MR CHARLES GEORGE QC and MISS JOANNA CLAYTON.
BIRCHAM DYSON BELL and MR JOHN McGOLDRICK examined
336. CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, good
morning. We resume on the second day of this Select Committee.
We left it last night with Mr McGoldrick cross-examining Mr Wilkinson
and at the point where we were discussing the legal opinion regarding
the £28 million and whether that legal opinion should, or
should not, have been disclosed. Mr George, are you able to help
us in that respect?
337. MR GEORGE: My Lord, I can. My Lord,
I passed this to Mr McGoldrick and I circulate it now to the Committee
(Same handed in). It is an extract from Schedule 12A to
the Local Government Act 1972.These are amendments made in 1986
and under paragraph 12 an item of exempt information, that is
exempt from disclosure, is, "Any instructions to counsel
and any opinion of counsel (whether or not in connection with
any proceedings)". I can stop reading there. This is plainly
an opinion of counsel and it is, therefore, exempt and, as Mr
Wilkinson said when he was asked questions, it was simply perfectly
338. CHAIRMAN: Do any of my colleagues find
that unclear? It seems to be eminently clear. Mr McGoldrick,
are you happy to accept that?
339. MR McGOLDRICK: I am not sure it is
totally clear to me, my Lord. As with anything, it is open to
interpretation. The interpretation that is put on this would
appear to be that any counsel's opinion is exempt. I am not sure
that is what the intention was, but I do not wish to labour the