The Government has refused, in response to an FOI request from Steve McCabe, to release information they hold on their recent announcement to close Baverstock Academy because of the ‘risk that the electorate could be influenced.’
The ruling was made using the controversial FOI Section 36 exemption which is known as the “Get Out of Jail Free” card which public authorities use when they want to withhold information and no other suitable exemption can be applied.
After the Government’s Education Secretary, Justine Greening confirmed that Baverstock Academy would be closed this summer, an FOI request was submitted to shed light on the closure decision. The information requested included that held by the Department of Education on the conditions at Baverstock Academy, the estimated cost of its closure and the Department’s correspondence with an interested sponsor who made an offer to take over the school before the closure decision was confirmed. The Government has now recognised there is a public interest in this information being made public but have refused to do so until after the General Election.
Steve McCabe said:
“I have been trying to uncover the truth about the Baverstock decision for quite some time, long before any election was called. The Government has been stonewalling for months and now shamefully they’ve decided to play their “Get out of Jail Free” card to stop the public knowing the truth about these events. It’s pretty clear the information will show they could have saved Baverstock if they had wanted to.
“This is just another smokescreen, time and time again they’ve treated parents and pupils from Baverstock and the Druids Heath community with complete and utter contempt. People deserve to know the facts and I won’t stop until we get the truth.”