Thursday, May 03, 2007

At the centre of the web

Following on from our previous post, regarding our request for the two RFI papers kept in the DfT vaults, we can now inform you that we eventually had to go back to the Treasury Solicitor to find out whether he was ready to provide the DfT with the coordinates of the documents in question.
“All roads lead to Rome”, a proverb says; similarly, in the Gaul RFI case, all roads lead to the TSol - to the Attorney General, in fact, as the Treasury Solicitor is just the front desk of that milliarium aureum to which all related questions are referred and from which all governmental responses seem to radiate.
As the Romans designed their radial network of roads with the purpose of preventing provinces getting together and organising resistance against the Empire, so has the Attorney General’s office placed itself at the centre of things in the Gaul inquiry. No request for information or inspection of the government’s chronicles is therefore possible without going through his nodal office first.
As a result, the TSol is now in the position to decree that not all documents in a public inquiry are public, and that these cannot be released without the agreement of the wreck commissioner, of the RFI retained experts[1] (all of whom cannot be contacted directly) and, ultimately, of the Attorney General, himself.
This “all roads lead to Rome” approach seems beneficial and expedient for the moment; however, the downside of this is, as it was for the Romans, that retaliating forces can also take these direct routes and reach the centre - just as quickly.
[1] The RFI retained experts were paid significant sums of money from the public purse; whatever they produced should therefore be available for public scrutiny.

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