Latest lame UK gov't excuse for supressing drug policy report: "if we release it, it will be hard to manage the news"

The British government has reached new heights of absurdity in stonewalling the release of a report on the efficacy of drug prohibition. The report was commissioned from independent academic researchers, and various activist and citizen groups have spent years filing four separate Freedom of Information requests for it. The government has manufactured excuse after excuse, going out on such bizarre limbs that even the Economist has taken notice.
The reason is that next March the National Audit Office (NAO), a public-spending watchdog, is due to publish a report of its own on local efforts to combat drugs. The Home Office says that to have two reports about drugs out at the same time might confuse the public, and for this reason it is going to keep its report under wraps.

This is believed to be the first time that a public body has openly refused to release information in order to manage the news better. The department argues that releasing its internal analysis now "risks misinterpretation of the findings of the [NAO] report", because its own analysis is from 2007 and predates the NAO's findings. The argument uses section 36 of the FOI act, which provides a broad exemption for information that could "prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs".

The information commissioner, who polices the FOI act, declined to comment because the case was still open. But his predecessor, Richard Thomas, who stepped down in June, questioned the novel defence. "Certainly my office was always quite sceptical of anything which said publishing information is going to confuse the public. If that's the case, normally you need to put out some extra material alongside it to provide adequate explanation. It's not a reason for withholding something."

Transform Drug Policy Foundation: Media Blog: Transform FOI vs Home Office suppression of research - Part V (in The Economist ) (Thanks, Steve!)