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January 01, 2018

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David Lowry

Why is UK Information Commissioner aiding cover-up of new nuclear build financing scandal?

I was intrigued to read Alex Ralph account of The Times’ attempt to secure information on Government Advisors Lazards advice on the new build nuclear power programme. (“

Advisers on Hinkley Point C nuclear power station had ‘cosy’ ties to both sides,” 1 January 2018; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/advisers-on-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-power-station-had-cosy-ties-to-both-sides-xftxcl9sz), especially the revelation that:

"Lazard’s 82-page tender document in 2013 ...initially was almost entirely redacted ” because “Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ( BEIS) […] officials had redacted the information, claiming that it was commercially sensitive.”


I have had a similar frustrating experience to The Times in trying to secure Government nuclear advice via Freedom of information legislation. On 19 September 2016 I wrote to BEIS requesting “a full copy of the report commissioned by DECC [BEIS’s predecessor department) from Evercore on different ways to fund new nuclear programmes'.



BEIS responded on 19 October 2016, confirming they held the document, but refused to release it claiming it was “was exempt from disclosure” exemptions permitted for commercial confidentiality reasons, under Regulation 12(5)(e) of FOI Act 2000.



BEIS turned down my appeal following an internal departmental review in November 2016. I subsequently appealed to the Information Commissioner, to try to get her support for the release of the 166 page report.


BEIS told the Information Commissioner :


'This advice reflects years of accumulated knowledge of the Evercore team involved and its release into the public domain would prejudice Evercore's commercial and economic interests by providing a document encapsulating and reflecting that knowledge to other parties. This information could be used by Evercore's competitors at a time when both they and Evercore may be assessing whether to compete for any future Government procurement processes in relation to new nuclear investment in the UK'.



In other words, BEIS put the commercial interests of a private consultancy, Evercore, before the British public’s right to know how the financial fiasco of Hinkley Point C was allowed to come about.



To my astonishment, the Information Commissioner’s office agreed to support private commercial interests of Evercore and French Government-owned EDF Energy, (the developers of Hinkley C), before the public interest in rejecting my appeal on 21 November last year.



The situation over the cover up by BEIS over Hinkley Point is a scandal that surely merits investigation by the House of Commons Public Accounts, Environmental Audit and Business , Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committees.



I hope the respective female Labour MP chairs will organize a collective investigation when Parliament returns next week as a matter of urgency.


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Yeah fair comment. Vested interests, calumnies, it doesn't look good. I don't see how they can find fault. Indeed idleness and dull wits probably describe it.

Imagine committing tens of £billions for future generations when it is a bad deal. Who in fact is on hand to litigate, when the devil (short hand hyperbole for demented greed) is against you.

Broach them. Stand up to them, embarrass them and get in their faces, you are right here. Stick to your principle and you have them snared. In fact we WANT them to come at you, attack you, such is the baselesness of this policy.

There is a time to go for the enemy, this is one. If they are useless, worn out, out-dated we owe them precisely nothing in patience and esteem. In fact I've said as much repeatedly.

I'll mention class. The world is formed around them. Its senseless to identify with a latter day minority. Are the people so easily comforted and charmed? We laugh at other countries (we as in 'some of the people some of the time'), yet ours is shit. I realise that is somewhat provacative but hear me out: we really don't have much to fall back on. Basics like truth, peace kindness are foundations. Things however that we should never be ashamed of.

Now, personally, and this will stick in some throats, why walk from one place, follow, obediently from one king to another?

You can have everything you want. That quite simply is the proper order.

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