Labour demands an investigation of Gove’s handling of the Cabinet Office.
Labour has demanded an investigation by the government’s ethics watchdog into whether Michael Gove has broken the ministerial code and misled Parliament.
Angela Rayner, the party’s deputy leader and shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has written to Boris Johnson, demanding that Lord Geidt, the ministerial adviser, investigate a unit known as the Clearing House, which handles Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and is based in the Cabinet Office.
Mr Gove is the minister in charge of the Cabinet Office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
The unit has been chastised for its operations, with concern that journalists would be blacklisted and that transparency would be hampered by the way potentially sensitive information requests from across the government were handled.
Following an appeal, an information rights tribunal ruled on Wednesday that, after a three-year battle, the Cabinet Office must reveal certain papers to the openDemocracy website.
“The significant lack of transparency about the function of the Cabinet Office may appear, from the material before this tribunal, to extend to ministers,” Judge Chris Hughes stated.
Mr Gove’s previous remarks on the operation have been proven false, according to Labour.
The Cabinet Office, on the other hand, maintained it had never denied the existence of the Clearing House and had refuted claims that journalists were blacklisted, among other allegations.
“Any suggestion that there has been a breach of the ministerial code is incorrect,” a spokesperson said.
“Because of the lack of transparency regarding the Cabinet Office Clearing House’s operations, the truth about the unit’s operations – and thus whether Mr Gove misled Parliament by saying that ‘all freedom of information requests are treated in exactly the same way’ – will be revealed in the documents that the judge has ruled must now be released,” Ms Rayner wrote.
“A Clearing House role was established by the last Labour Government in 2004 to help ensure there is a consistent approach across government to requests for information that go to a number of different departments,” the Cabinet Office spokeswoman added. (This is a brief piece.)