Putney MP Spots Gaps in Emails at DfT

After using the Freedom Of Information Act to investigate expansion of Heathrow

Related Articles
BAA Clarify Their Position on Third Runway
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

The (ICO) Information Commissioner's Office has confirmed that there will be a "intensive investigation" of the emails filed by the Department for Transport (DfT) received in 2007 about the 3rd runway .

Putney's MP Justine Greening, has asked for the investigation after noticing gaps in e-mail conversations between September and November 2007 fearing that email have been deleted from the records.

Ms Greening told the BBC in a televised interview on Putney Embankment, "There were a variety of e-mails on important issues that never had an end. I think it seems very unlikely there was that level of e-mail conversation where there was never an end," she told the BBC.

"And it was unlikely that they were sporadically deleted in a random way... it was the end of conversations that were never resolved," she said.

In the interview she told the BBC that she made three identical requests under the Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act, in July 2006, September 2007 and April 2008.

"I'm very pleased the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is investigating, it's important one way or another to find out what has happened," she continued: "I very much hope, if e-mails were withheld, that those are then made public."

Ms Greening, who has campaigned against the £9bn expansion, millions of Londoners had had their lives ruined by overhead flights and air pollution from Heathrow. The Conservative shadow local government minister said she wanted to find out what discussions were going on within the DfT in the run up to the consultation on Heathrow's expansion.

"Until ministers reverse their decision to expand the airport, we will continue to campaign," she said. In 2009 the Conservatives pledged to scrap plans for a third Heathrow runway if elected.

A DfT spokesman told the BBC: "We are aware of a possible investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office, but have not received any formal notice. The department has received a number of FOI cases in relation to expansion at Heathrow, and we believe they have all been handled responsibly and in accordance with the Act."

The ICO said: "We are looking into allegations made by Justine Greening MP concerning requests for information to the Department for Transport. We have contacted BAA and the DfT to help us establish the full facts."

It is a criminal offence to delete or conceal records to prevent them from being disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

A BAA spokesperson said the company was not covered by the FOI Act and had "no comment".

February 9, 2010