McCoughlin Invokes Emergency Veto to Keep HS2 Report Secret

by Jeremy on 30-Jan-2014

The Secretary for Transport, Patrick McCoughlin, is so desperate to ensure that a 2011 report to government on HS2, the planned high speed railway from London to Birmingham and beyond, should be kept under wraps that he has invoked an emergency veto. This type of veto has only previously been used in matters of extreme importance where it is paramount that certain information should not become public, such as in the war with Iraq where national security was at stake. In the case of HS2 it has been used to overrule a Decision Notice issued by the Information Commissioner that the report should be released in response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act.

The government had previously denied that there was anything of importance in the report but tacitly admitted that some information in the report could be damaging. It now looks near certain that the report does indeed contain some damning information regarding the case for HS2. Bearing in mind that the decision to use such a veto has been made in respect of nothing more secret that a proposed infrastructure development, the veto action itself raises very strong doubts that there is any real case at all for the proposed high speed railway. So much for freedom of information, so much for democracy.

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