FCO 141 withdrawal internal and external correspondence

FOI request reference: CAS-89271
Publication date: July 2022


I would also like to request, under the Freedom of Information Act, copies of all TNA internal correspondence, and correspondence between TNA and any government department, concerning the withdrawal of FCO 141, including but not limited to reports of insecticide contamination.


Information withheld.


I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with this information.

From our preliminary assessment, it is clear that we will not be able to answer your request because to do so would exceed the cost limit provision under section 12 of the Act. Section 12(1) removes the obligation for a public authority to comply with a request for information if the cost of complying with the request would exceed an appropriate limit. For further information about why this exemption has been applied, please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this email.

To provide the information you have specified in accordance with your definitions, would require significant work to search through hundreds of emails, many of which have multiple attachments. The work required across multiple business areas to determine whether the information is held, and to locate, retrieve and extract the information is unfortunately not possible within the cost limit. Therefore, we are unable to process your request as it stands.

You may want to consider refining your request by narrowing its scope and being more specific about the particular information you wish to obtain. For example:

By including any specific dates or period of time relevant to the information required. This might include, for example, specifying correspondence from a particular month, such as April 2022, when the FCO 141 series was first withdrawn from public access.

By refining the scope of your initial request. As The National Archives took the decision to withdraw the records, most of the correspondence within the scope of the request is internal correspondence. You may wish to consider refining your request, for example, to the ‘correspondence between The National Archives and any government department, concerning the withdrawal of FCO 141’.

You may find guidance produced by the ICO useful for this process: ‘How should I word my request to get the best result?’ This provides some tips for making effective FOI requests, so that you can find the core information which is important to you.

To be clear, you are not obliged to inform us of the purpose of your request, but the more descriptive information you provide, the more we can help you identify if we hold the information you are looking for within the cost limit.

Exemptions applied:

Section 12 – Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit.

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for central government departments like The National Archives, is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending just over three working days determining whether the department holds the information, as well as locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

We estimate that it will take us in excess of this to identify the appropriate information, and locate, retrieve and extract it in response to your request because it is so wide ranging. Therefore, the majority of your request will not be processed further. You may wish to consider refining your request. Further guidance can be found at:


We are unable to guarantee that any refined requests would fall within the cost limit.