Last month, I highlighted a very dubious OIA response from the Prime Minister’s office regarding his contacts with journalist Rachel Glucina, who had just outed and smeared the victim of his pony-tail pulling. Following that post, I sent an OIA request of my own, seeking to learn:
whether the Prime Minister or his office holds information on contacts with Rachel Glucina about the pony-tail pulling incident;
whether the Prime Minister or his office holds information on contacts with Rachel Glucina about the pony-tail pulling victim
Last night I received the response: more of the same stonewalling. According to the Prime Minister’s office, “the position I have outlined in responding to a request on the FYI website regarding the releasing of any details of communications from the Prime Minister or the media team to Rachel Glucina still stands”. The request was refused under section 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(ba)(i). The problem? They can’t actually do that. The request was very specifically a request for information concerning existence of certain information. And as section 10 of the OIA makes clear, the grounds for refusal are extremely limited. Neither of the cited grounds is a legal reason for refusal under section 10. Naturally, I’ve complained to the Ombudsman, so maybe I’ll have a response in three years. But I’m left wondering: what is the Prime Minister trying to hide? Would it kill him to say “yes” to either of those questions? And if he’s so ashamed of his contact with Rachel Glucina that he is blatantly ignoring the law to avoid admitting it, maybe he shouldn’t have contacted her in the first place?