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AN ATTEMPT to force the government to publish Brexit impact studies was rejected by the High Court yesterday.
The Good Law Project (GLP) and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato sought a judicial review of a refusal to disclose documents on the likely effect of Brexit.
The Department for Exiting the European Union and the Treasury refused, saying that they could be obtained via the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.
The studies have been released to MPs, but GLP’s founder, barrister Jolyon Maugham QC, said outside court that they were “bound by duties of confidentiality.”
Tim Pitt-Payne QC, for GLP, said Ms Scott Cato and Mr Maugham were “interested in contributing to the public debate” about Brexit.
Mr Pitt-Payne said the information “needs to be available to the public” before October, when negotiations with the EU are due to finish, being “of no real value” after that point.
Evidence from FoI expert Maurice Frankel was read out, which said that an average time between a request to the Information Commissioner to a first-tier tribunal decision was almost two years.
GLP submitted that the case was “exceptional” because of the urgency of the need for the documents.
But Mr Justice Supperstone rejected permission, finding that FoI was a suitable alternative.
After the judgement, Mr Maugham said GLP was considering whether to pursue the case to the Court of Appeal.
Ms Scott Cato said the decision was “incredibly disappointing,” adding that she felt the government’s refusal to disclose the information was “just a stalling mechanism.”
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