You asked

Paragraph 3.22 of UKSA assessment report no 79, said that the ONS does not provide any additional information detailing how inflation indices should be used, "beyond that contained in the Technical Manual" as "it would not wish to contradict policy adopted by other Government departments or private companies in contracts or legal agreements since, by doing so, it could be considered liable for any loss of income resulting from its advice."

Please can you share with me all legal advice (internal or external) received in the ONS about this matter (from the date of the advice referred to above to the present) and the publication of the RPI more generally.

We said

Thank you for your request.

We do not hold legal advice relating to the quote referenced within your request from paragraph 3.22 of the UKSA Assessment Report No 79. We also do not hold any internal legal advice on this matter, or the publication of the Retail Price Index (RPI) more generally.

The external legal advice you have requested on the publication of RPI, has been withheld under s.42(1) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Section 42 provides an exemption under FOIA for information protected by legal professional privilege. This protects confidential communications between lawyers and clients and is a fundamental principle of English law.

As s.42 is engaged, we must consider whether the public interest test in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The public interest in maintaining the exemption is safeguarding the openness and the free and frank discussions between client and lawyer. Furthermore, the topic of RPI is also very much a live one, adding additional weight to withholding the information.

Whilst we acknowledge that there are arguments of transparency and accountability, we feel that public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.