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Note added by CP.

Some respondents contacted me to express the view that the referral of details to GCHQ could be more to do with FOIA management.

I did indeed worry about this aspect. However,

1. GCHQ are exempt from FOIA by reference of the definition of public authority” in S.84 of FOIA.

2. The status of the document re S.23 is clear – it is clearly marked as exempt from FOIA – and I checked this by going to Internal Review. This Review would have sought the views of GCHQ to the request (as demanded on the document).

3. I asked a couple of FOI officers in public authorities what they would do – they said they would send full details of the request and requestor to GCHQ

Also the main thrust of the blog is not the GCHQ referral but the nature of the national security exemption in FOIA and DP.

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