The complainant submitted a request to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) seeking communications between the FCO in London and the British embassy in Washington which contained the keywords ‘Twitter’, ‘tweets’, or ‘Britain First’ and were sent between 29th November 2017 and 13th December 2017. The FCO provided the complainant with some information falling within the scope of his request but sought to withhold further information on the basis of sections 27(1)(a), (c) and (d) and 27(2) (international relations); 35(1)(a) (formulation and development of government policy) and 40(2) (personal data) of FOIA. The complainant sought to challenge the FCO’s reliance on sections 27 and 35; he was also dissatisfied with the time it took the FCO to complete its public interest test considerations. The Commissioner has concluded that the withheld information is exempt from disclosure on the basis of sections 27(1)(a), (b) and (d) and 35(1)(a) and that in all the circumstances of the case the public interest favours maintaining the exemptions. However, the Commissioner has concluded that the FCO breached section 17(3) of FOIA by failing to complete its public interest test considerations within a reasonable time.
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