Labour asks FoI watchdog to probe report officials using WhatsApp to avoid rules

Written by Agnes Chambre on 27 April 2016 in News

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Louise Haigh says use of WhatsApp should either be "banned completely or brought under the FoI legislation"

Downing Street is facing criticism over a report that ministers and senior members of David Cameron’s team are using WhatsApp to formulate strategy for the EU referendum, potentially side-stepping Freedom of Information requests.

The encrypted messenger service is not subject to FoI laws and the group conversations will not be kept in historical records.

A government source told The Sun newspaper that the service was being used among Remain supporters “for planning and sharing news links”. ​

Information watchdog pushes back against FoI charges call
Freedom of Information review: ministers reject charging for requests – but commission recommends tightening of rules around policy formulation

“They did exactly the same before the election last year,” the source added.

The report has prompted shadow Cabinet Office minister Louise Haigh to write to the Information Commissioner, asking the watchdog to "urgently" investigate the claims and ensure the use of WhatsApp for official communications is "either banned completely or brought under the FoI legislation".

Haigh added: “This is yet one more example of the government’s attempts to avoid scrutiny and stop us knowing what’s happening with our taxpayers money.”

“Not only does this evade FOI but it could have implications for the 20 year rule of release of cabinet papers.”

A Number 10 source said: “This is the modern age, people communicate in variety of different ways.”

Author Display Name
Agnes Chambre
About the author

Agnes Chambre reports for CSW's dedicated political sister site,

Share this page
Editor's Pick
Promote as primary content
Not Promoted

Share this page

Further reading in our policy hubs


Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.


Winston Smith (not verified)

Submitted on 27 April, 2016 - 13:33
A good example of fair and open government, where ministers' decisions are available for public scrutiny!

Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted on 27 April, 2016 - 20:23
Totally stupid. What about so called off the record conversations? Are they to be banned too? FOI is supposed to make things more free, not introduce more red tape

Contact the author

The contact details for the Civil Service World editorial team are available on our About Us page.

Related Articles

Related Sponsored Articles

Mind the Gap
3 April 2014

Given the rhetoric surrounding the shift to the modern workplace and the importance of centring...