ICO investigates MoJ

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has begun a criminal investigation into the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) over allegations the department broke Freedom of Information law reports BuzzFeed News.

The move is a result of a ‘buried report’ leaked to the media agency which suggested the department buried damning research into people defending themselves in court.

BuzzFeed reports that the decision was taken by the ICO following formal complaints from itself and others that the government had concealed the existence of a 36-page internal report that contained explosive testimony from senior judges about the impact on the justice system of unrepresented people in crown court.

The research was commissioned by the government to review the impact of cuts to legal aid made in the 2012 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) and was based on in-depth interviews with 15 crown court judges and six prosecutors.

Shadow justice minister, Richard Burgon, said, ‘Regardless of the embarrassment it causes, the government should now publish the report in full and should stop trying to cover up the true scale of the damage that its cuts are causing to access to justice.’

An ICO spokesperson said, ‘We are making enquiries into a complaint about a Freedom of Information request in relation to the Ministry of Justice.’