Date: 27 August 2019
The Governor met with Mark Zuckerberg on 16 April 2019.
Minutes relating to this meeting are exempt under section 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) and (c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the FoI Act.
By way of explanation, these provisions apply where disclosure of information would or would be likely, in the reasonable opinion of a ‘qualified person’ within the meaning of section 36(5)(o) of the FoI Act, to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or, the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation or would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs. Mr Footman, the Secretary of the Bank, is a qualified person for this purpose and is of the opinion that disclosure of certain requested information in this case would be likely to have the inhibiting and prejudicial effects referred to in sections 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) and (c). In reaching this view, Mr Footman has been particularly mindful of the Governor's role and the need to be able to meet on a confidential basis and have free and frank discussions with a very wide range of individuals.
Section 36 is also subject to a public interest assessment. Whilst we recognise that there is a public interest in the discussions around the Bank’s meetings with high profile organisations such as Facebook, there is a significant countervailing public interest in not disclosing certain information relating to those discussions, which would be likely to inhibit the free and frank exchange of views or provision of advice in the future, impair established relationships and hinder the development of policy or which would otherwise be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. We therefore believe that in this case the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.