by Chris Ames
Digest contributor Chris Lamb has won another – and hopefully final – battle in his attempt to uncover the truth about why the Inquiry was set up as it was. The judgement is a complete humiliation for the Cabinet Office, which has wasted thousands of pounds of public money pursuing a case that has zero merit.
In May Chris won an information tribunal ruling ordering the Cabinet Office to disclose the secret advice that officials gave then prime minister Gordon Brown in June 2009 about the composition and remit of the Inquiry. This could show why it was set up without the ability to reach a judgement on the legality of the war.
But the Cabinet Office failed to comply with the order and eventually secured a stay while its request for the upper tribunal to hear an appeal was considered.
In a decision published yesterday the upper tribunal judge refused permission to appeal, throwing out every ground the Cabinet Office floated.
Dr Lamb’s own skeleton argument concludes with the submission that “there is next to no merit in the Cabinet Office’s case in seeking permission to further appeal and that what it wants to do is re-run the first appeal because it strongly disagrees with the conclusions and judgment properly made by the FTT”. For the reasons set out above, I have to say that I agree with that analysis (although I would prefer to say simply “no merit” rather than “next to no merit”).
The ruling is also highly critical of the Cabinet Office’s behaviour after the original tribunal and expresses some bafflement at what it sees as incompetence but was perhaps cynical stalling.
Unfortunately the Cabinet Office still has the possibility of an application to the High Court for judicial review and a further stay of around three weeks in the meantime. Given how badly they have lost, it seems inconceivable that they could try again. But you could (and I did) have said that last time.