Addleshaws forces Govt’s hand in tussle with The Times

Addleshaw Goddard is celebrating its big win for The Times newspaper in a freedom of information battle with HM Treasury.

The Treasury had withheld details relating to the withdrawal of tax relief for pension funds leading up to the 1997 budget.

Documents were released by HM Treasury after it became clear it would be difficult to maintain a freedom of information exemption just days before evidence for the tribunal was due to be heard.

Partner Rupert Earle, who led the Addleshaws team, said: “The Government claimed that Section 35 provided an exemption relating to the information provided. There have been other key cases in this area, such as the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions.” The Times journalist Helen Nugent made the initial freedom of information request in 2005 after Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that the tax relief would be scrapped. Addleshaws instructed counsel Philip Coppel of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square.

“There was a great deal of media coverage on this and the public interest was huge,” said Earle. “I think the Government realised that this was not going to be something it would be able to restrict and handed the information over just days before evidence was to be served.”