timeline

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.

Phase 1 – Department of Health & Social Care

20 April 2020 FOI process launches
19 May 2020 DHSC response
21 May 2020 Refined FOI request
19 June 2020 DHSC response
16 July 2020 DHSC response
14 August 2020 DHSC response
12 September 2020 DHSC response
28 September 2020 ICO response
20 October 2020 Disclosure
27 October 2020 DHSC response
1 June 2020 Judicial Review case launches
23 August 2020 Judicial response
28 August 2020 Our appeal
27 October 2020 Government response
28 October 2020 Our response
3 November 2020 Government denial
13 November 2020 Legal case withdrawn
18 Dec 2020 The Telegraph

Phase 2 – Department of Health & Social Care

21 Dec 2020 Targeted FOI request
22 Jan 2021 DHSC response
22 Jan 2021 Request for ICO intervention
22 Jan 2021 DHSC response
22 Jan 2021 Request for Internal Review
18 Feb 2021 DHSC response
25 Feb 2021 Section 50(1) FOIA application
23 March 2021 Leigh Day submissions to ICO
17 Jun 2021 ICO finds against DHSC

Phase 2 – NHS England

21 Dec 2020 Targeted FOI request
21 Jan 2021 NHSE response
23 Jan 2021 Reminder of FOI obligations
28 Jan 2021 Request for ICO intervention
10 Feb 2021 ICO intervention
2 March 2021 ICO finds against NHSE
6 April 2021 NHSE response
12 April 2021 Request for Internal Review
17 May 2021 Request for ICO intervention
14 June 2021 ICO intervention
25 June 2021 Request for ICO intervention

Phase 2 – The Cabinet Office / Civil Contingencies Secretariat

22 Dec 2020 Targeted FOI request
2 Feb 2021 Cabinet Office response
2 Feb 2021 Request for Internal Review
5 March 2021 Cabinet Office response
5 March 2021 Section 50(1) FOIA application
8 April 2021 Leigh Day submissions to ICO
19 Jul 2021 ICO finds in favour of CO

Phase 2 – Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (Essex Local Resilience Forum)

23 Dec 2020 Targeted FOI request
26 Jan 2021 LRF response
28 Jan 2021 Request for Internal Review
18 Feb 2021 LRF response
25 Feb 2021 Section 50(1) FOIA application
19 April 2021 My submissions to ICO
21 May 2021 ICO finds against ECFRS
24 Jun 2021 ECFRS provides documents
24 Jun 2021 Request for Internal Review

Phase 2 – Public Health England

9 Feb 2021 Targeted FOI request
18 Feb 2021 Reminder to [email protected]
25 Feb 2021 Reminder to [email protected]
10 March 2021 PHE breaches deadline
17 March 2021 Request for ICO intervention
6 April 2021 ICO communication
6 April 2021 Request for Internal Review
19 May 2021 Partial disclosure by PHE
19 May 2021 Request for ICO intervention
25 Jun 2021 Leigh Day submissions
6 July 2021 Partial Disclosure
15 Sep 2021 ICO finds against PHE

Phase 2 – Public Health England (now UK Health Security Agency)

19 May 2021 Targeted FOI request
18 Jun 2021 PHE response
15 July 2021 PHE response
5 Aug 2021 Partial disclosure by PHE
5 Aug 2021 Request for Internal Review
29 Sept 2021 Request for ICO intervention
7 Oct 2021 Partial disclosure
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