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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Education Secretary Demanded To Publish Private Emails

Michael Gove is seen coming under growing pressure to disclose the contents of private emails suspected to have been sent between his advisers and himself.

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Tom Watson MP mentioned a couple days ago that Michael Gove should be honest and open about what had been discussed in correspondence between his team of political and policy advisers. He suggested that Gove published the private emails between him, special adviser and civil servant, because it is suspected to be something bad. When local press tried to approach Watson’s office for further comment, they haven’t received a reply.

While waiting for the outcome of an investigation carried by the Information Commissioner’s Office, Tom Watson has been sending questions to the Department for Education about the retention of information in private emails, which included requesting data on what steps Education Secretary was taking to make sure that the information is retained from private emails and whether any demands have been made to help delete private emails from departmental staff.

Moreover, Tom Watson has also requested data about legitimate costs for removing any information which have been run up so far. That’s why the observer made a conclusion that Watson, who is known as a critic of Rupert Murdoch and the News of the World hacking scandal, smells a rat. But the question of the private emails being subject to FOI requests is not an easy one.

According to the ICO point of view, which it reiterated in December, private emails discussing departmental business must be published for everyone to read. But it appeared to be at odds with Cabinet Office guidance, and Michael Gove has expectedly stuck by the line of adhering to Cabinet Office rules while under questioning.

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