He reckons that the Chancellor should be required to make the contents of the Treasury computer model public and is displeased that he's been told to go away. What the Treasury actually said was that it “would in future inhibit officials/experts in providing sufficiently free and frank advice.' Anyone who's reviewed the Freedom of Information Act would instantly spot that this is a legally reason for refusal - a s36 exemption, on the grounds that releasing the information would be prejudicial to effective conduct of public affairs. To be honest, the Treasury could also have refused access under s35 (advice to Ministers) and s29 (prejudicial to the economy of the UK).
While this isn't an absolute exemption under the act, I'd suggest that Hemming's appeal to the Information Commissioner is likely to be laughed at. Whatever you think about the FoIA 2000, the refusal seems to be entirely within the terms of the Act.
There is an odd choice of words in his press release, though.
'John Hemming MP, a computer specialist, has hacked in to the Treasury's Economic Modelling Computer System'He denies that he's done anything illegal, implying that this is a flight of pure hyperbole and we won't see Cllr Hemming being called in for a quick chat by the police. Still, anything for a bit of publicity, eh?
John's very hot on disclosure of information, so perhaps he can explain why the City Council are dragging their feet over releasing the consultants' report on the scheme for the Birmingham Underground. Indeed, they tried to define the report as confidential on the say-so of Mike Whitby and a few cronies - a decision for which there is no support in law and one which has been overruled by the legal team at the Council.
The council can expect to find itself the subject of a complaint in the very near future.