FOI: US trade working group papers released

29 Nov 2019

Information Law, Public Law and Judicial Review

This week the Labour Party released unredacted records of the UK’s trade working group negotiations with the United States. The documents concern negotiations about the NHS, drug pricing, data protection, market access, and a range of other important public policy issues.¬†Their release and content have become a key battleground in the 2019 General Election.

The papers are one part of a broader Freedom of Information request by transparency campaigner Brendan Montague. The full request covers 17 states.

The United Kingdom is not permitted to begin trade negotiations until it leaves the EU but the Department for International Trade has set up a series of trade working groups to conduct preparatory talks.

Mr Montague requested the records of those talks and the UK’s aims and objectives. The Secretary of State refused the request and Mr Montague challenged her decision.

The challenge will be heard by the First-Tier Tribunal on 12 and 13 December. The details of the US working groups are now in the public domain and Mr Montague will ask the tribunal to order disclosure of the 16 other working groups.

Sam Fowles, instructed by Leigh Day LLP, will represent Mr Montague.