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Sunday 17 November 2019

High Court bid to force release of Brexit impact studies fails

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and the Good Law Project campaign group were refused permission for a judicial review at the High Court on Tuesday.

Brexit Secretary David Davis (Leon Neal/PA)
Brexit Secretary David Davis (Leon Neal/PA)

By Sian Harrison, Press Association

Campaigners have lost a legal bid to force the Government to release studies on the economic impact of Brexit.

Ministers have refused to release Whitehall studies relating to 58 sectors of the economy and a Treasury report comparing the possible costs of leaving the European Union with the potential benefits of new trade deals.

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and the Good Law Project campaign group brought a challenge against Chancellor Philip Hammond and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, at the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Their lawyers argued the documents need to be released “urgently” due to Brexit timescales and therefore they should not have to go through the process of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

But, refusing permission for a full judicial review hearing, Mr Justice Supperstone said the FOIA provides an “alternative remedy”.

He added: “I am not persuaded that the alleged urgency amounts to an exceptional circumstance which justifies departure from the statutory regime.

“In my judgment, there is a suitable alternative remedy in this case.”

The judge also refused permission to appeal against his ruling.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Cato said the court’s ruling was “incredibly disappointing”.

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