Who chooses the next PM?
2 September 2022
165 Fleet Street
Dear Mr Field,
I write further to your letter of 31 August 2022 in which you confirm you are instructed by the Conservative and Unionist Party (the “Party”) in relation to the proposed challenge to the decision of the Party, recorded in the letter dated 26 August 2022 (the “Decision”), to refuse to provide the information requested by Tortoise Media (“TM”) in TM’s letter dated 17 August 2022; the “Information”).
It remains TM’s position that the proximity of the end of the Party’s leadership competition justifies an expedited period for a response to the pre-action letter sent on 30 August 2022 (the “Letter”). It is self-evident that the sooner after the end of the Party’s leadership competition that the Information is provided, the greater the benefit to the public interest in facilitating public scrutiny and, therefore, securing transparency and legitimacy of the process which will have culminated in the appointment of the next Prime Minister.
The suggestion that the timing of the Letter suggests that TM did not consider the request for the Information to be urgent is, with respect, misconceived. The timing of the Letter simply reflects the late response by the Party to the requests for the Information. Moreover, as was made clear in the requests for the Information, an urgent response from the Party to the requests was sought.
As for the reference to the fact that the Letter runs to 13 pages, and the implication that this justifies the need for additional time in responding to the Letter, this ignores the fact that the substance of the Letter reiterates the matters already set out in TM’s letter dated 17 August 2022 requesting the Information. Your client therefore has already had in excess of two weeks to consider these matters and, if considered appropriate, to obtain legal advice in formulating the Decision and, as such, to address the matters raised in the Letter.
In the circumstances, and having regards to the Party’s delay in engaging with TM’s requests for the Information, we propose to proceed with the preparatory work for issuing judicial review proceedings challenging the Decision. Any response to the Letter prior to these judicial review proceedings being issued will of course be considered.
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