This FOI request relates to information ACOBA held in 2015, relating to correspondence it had with the former Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, between 2005 to 2009. The information request was subject to correspondence and various appeals between the requester and the Information Commissioner’s Office and ACOBA.
ACOBA has released this information following a judgment by the First Tier Tribunal. The Tribunal found that although it is important for ACOBA not to lose its safe space to discuss matters with former ministers, the particular case of Mr Blair is special and therefore in these specific circumstances, disclosure in this case is in the public interest.
This request concerns historical matters. At the time, ACOBA’s membership differed from that today, as did Government’s rules around outside appointments. At the time Tony Blair left office in 2007, the Government’s rules did not require former ministers to seek advice on ‘unpaid appointments in non-commercial organisations’, nor was there a standard ban on lobbying government. Today, the Ministerial Code states that ‘On leaving office, Ministers will be prohibited from lobbying Government for two years. They must also seek advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) about any appointments or employment they wish to take up within two years of leaving office’.