A TIMELINE OF POLITICAL EVASION
We started our campaign by making a simple request from the Government: “You organised Exercise Cygnus so that we could learn about our national pandemic capabilities. Can you please now allow us to learn from the Cygnus Reports?” The Department of Health used section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act (and later section 35) to evade transparency. We then applied for Judicial Review, arguing that the Government had a duty to disclose the Reports under the Civil Contingencies Act.
Eventually, the Department of Health was forced to disclose Public Health England’s overview report of Cygnus, but affirmed it did not have the other reports mentioned in our witness evidence, in particular a population triage report. Relying on this affirmation, we withdrew from Judicial Review. On 18 December 2020, the Telegraph published a document which showed the Department of Health had received a population triage report from NHS England in December 2017.
On 21 December 2020, we responded to the Health Secretary’s politics of evasion by launching Phase 2 – a new campaign involving nine public authorities. Five of those public authorities continue to withhold pandemic preparation data of public interest.