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Arabian Peninsula Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

Mr Matthew R Lee Website: https://www.gov.uk
innercitypress@gmail.com

5 February 2018

Dear Mr Lee,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST REF: 0783-17

Thank you for your email of 15 August 2017 asking for information under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) 2000. You asked:

the following records as that term is defined in FOI, including but not limited to all
electronic records, emails, text/SMS message and communications in any form,
involving the UK Mission to the UN in New York between *May 15 to 15 August 2017
regarding Cameroon and/or Yemen, on which the UK holds the pen in the UN Security
Council [additional requests omitted at FCO request.]

This request specifically includes all records related to briefings given by the UK
Mission to the UN to members of the major international media (and any mentions of
that term), as that information cannot legitimately by made public to some but not to
the public.

*revised on 16 August 2017

I am writing to confirm that we have now completed the search for the information that you
requested and confirm that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does hold
information relevant to your request.

Concerning the first part of your request, the information is being withheld under Section 21 -
information accessable by other means; Section 27 – international relations; Section 35 –
formulation of government policy; and Section 40 – personal information of the FOIA.

Under Section 21 of the Act, we are not required to provide information in response to a
request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. Some of the information you requested
is available from the UN website: UKMIS NY
Section 27(1)(a)(b)(c)(d) of the FOIA recognises the need to protect information that would
be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and other states and
International Organisations if it was disclosed. In this case, the release of information
relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member
states of the United Nations (UN).

The application of Section 27(1)(a)(b)(c)(d) requires us to consider the public interest test
arguments in favour of releasing and withholding the information. We acknowledge that
releasing information on this issue would increase public knowledge about our relations with
other member states of the UN. However, Section 27 (1)(a)(b)(c)(d) recognises that the
effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence
between governments and international organisations. If the United Kingdom does not
maintain this trust and confidence, its ability to protect and promote UK interests through
international relations will be hampered, which will not be in the public interest. This would
reduce the UK government's ability to protect and promote UK interests through its relations
with other member states of the UN, which would not be in the public interest. For these
reasons, we consider that the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the
public interest in disclosing it.

Section 35(1)(a) formulation of government policy has also been considered. It is
recognised that there is public interest in greater transparency in the decision making
process to ensure accountability within public authorities. However, officials need to be able
to conduct rigorous and candid risk assessments of their policies and programmes including
considerations of the advantages and disadvantages, without there being a risk of premature
disclosure which might close off better options and inhibit the free and frank discussion of all
policy options. For these reasons, we consider that the public interest in maintaining this
exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Finally for part 2 of your request, the weekly background briefings to selected UN media are
given orally and they are not transcribed. Therefore, there are no records of these meetings.

If you wish to make a complaint or if you would like a review of our decision, please write to
the FOI and DPA Team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Room K4.04, King Charles
Street, London, SW1A 2AH. E-mail: foi-dpa.imd@fco.gov.uk. You have 40 working days
from the date of this letter to do so.

If you were not content with the outcome of your complaint, you would then be able to apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information
Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by the FCO. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9
5AF.

Yours sincerely,
Arabian Peninsula Department

We keep and use information in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. We may release this personal information to other UK
government departments and public authorities.