Cabinet Office Covers Up Clegg’s Secret Farage Briefings

Readers will remember back in March when Guido broke the story that Nick Clegg had been accused of using civil service resources to prepare for his debates with Nigel Farage. At the time sources familiar with the situation reported that Clegg’s taxpayer funded preparation had strayed into party political territory. This would be a clear breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct, which says any briefings received by ministers must be non-partisan. In the debates Clegg appeared as Leader of the Liberal Democrats…

In search for the truth, Guido requested a copy of Clegg’s preparation for the debates from the Cabinet Office under the Freedom of Information Act. Today, after some delay, the Cabinet Office have confirmed that they do possess the briefings Clegg received, but are refusing to release them despite admitting there is a public interest in doing so:

“There is a general public interest in disclosure of information and I recognise that openness in government may increase public trust in and engagement with the Government. However, these public interests have to be weighed against a stronger public interest of the workings of a private office.”

Clegg has the opportunity to clear his name and prove he did not use civil service resources on party political activity. If he is innocent, there is no loss to him or the Cabinet Office by releasing non-partisan briefing papers. For some reason however, they are not doing so. Those more cynical than Guido might suggest they have something to hide…



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