Parliamentary answers “abbreviated for clarity and brevity” (Otherwise known as “Wrong”)

In response to a Freedom of Information request about Prison Service consultations, an odd discrepancy arose: Caroline Lucas MP asked the same question in parliament and received a different response.

This doesn’t sound like a major issue as the differences between the two lists – organisations consulted over a particular policy change – seem minor, being just one organisation missing from the parliamentary answer. Still, the Trans community is not that large. How comprehensive a consultation can be regarded as can easily turn on if a single organisation, particularly one the size of GIRES, has been included in that consultation.

So, an internal review was requested and in due course a reply is received: The Freedom of Information request was handled correctly in the first place. Despite the discrepancy with the parliamentary answer, “Both responses are accurate“.

How exactly does that work? “The response provided to parliament was abbreviated and formatted for clarity and brevity.

I wonder how many other answers to written parliamentary questions have been “abbreviated for clarity and brevity”. Particularly where the “clarified” version hides information the minister concerned would rather not reveal?

(P.S. I am still not clear if the answer to my FoI request is accurate – it may be that the parliamentary version is the correct one. I shall check with GIRES as I believe they were not in fact consulted)

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