March 2012

Request:

What is the function of the Freedom of Information Act with regard to The National Archives? If requesting material which I believe to be classified by the British government, how would I know where to find it on my own or through a paid researcher? Does this response mean the archives have no classified material on Borovets' and that I should therefore only search the regular holdings? How does FOI expand search possibilities within The National Archives? While I understand MI6 is immune to such requests, can I make one for the military, which might be in possession of such records?

Outcome:

Neither confirm nor deny

Response:

In this case exemptions are applicable, section 23 (5) and section 24(2):

Section 23 (5)
The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section (1) (1) (a) would involve the disclosure of any information (whether or not already recorded) which was directly or indirectly supplied to the public authority by, or relates to, any of the bodies specified in subsection (3).

Section 24(2)
The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, exemption from section 1(1)(a) is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

We have considered this carefully and determined that it is not in the public interest to confirm or deny whether we hold the information. The reason for applying the principle of 'neither confirm nor deny' under these exemptions section 23 (5) and section 24 (2) is because by confirming or denying whether The National Archives holds such a category of information could in itself disclose sensitive or damaging information.

Thus these exemptions apply because it is important that our response under FOIA does not allow any deduction as to whether or not there is any involvement by a section 23 body.