The Upper Tribunal has ruled on the practice of public authorities refusing FOIA requests citing both ss 23 and 24 “in the alternative”, despite the fact that they are mutually exclusive and only one can apply to any piece of requested information.
The so-called “masking” practice arose because citing (or not citing) s.23 would reveal whether the requested information related to a security body, something the FCDO argued may raise national security issues.
The Tribunal accepted the national security concerns, which it concluded were for the executive to evaluate, and held that in the context the requirement to “specify” the exemption relied on means no more than to “cite” or “identify” it.
Alison Berridge represented one of the three requesters.
The decision is available here.