On Friday 30 October, the Isle of Man Health Minister, David Ashford, claimed to have received an “anonymous letter”. This letter was substantially critical of media outlets on the Isle of Man, and Dr Rachel Glover, and he read the letter out during his press conference on 30 October:

This letter is obviously of public interest: indeed, the Health Minister implicitly confirmed as much by reading it out during a press conference. As a result, on the Sunday after the press conference, I submitted a freedom of information request for the letter, which read in part:

“Please send me:
A copy of the letter received by the Department of Health & Social Care Minister on Thursday 29 October which reads, in part, “Dear Minister, I’m writing to you to make you aware of how demoralised many of us feel over the media coverage of the last few weeks. The implication that our entire testing regime is down to one individual, and would not function without them is as far from the truth can be…”

Freedom of Information request by Michael Josem to Department of Health and Social Care on Sunday 2 November

The Department of Health and Social Care responded to my freedom of information request earlier today, Wednesday 18 November:

The Department of Health and Social Care (the ‘Department’) can confirm that the Minister received the letter you refer on Thursday 29th October 2020. The letter was posted to Minister at his home address. When Minister receives any personal correspondence of this nature, to his home address, it is usual practice that this is destroyed…

The Department can confirm that post briefing the original letter was destroyed by the Minister so therefore not held as defined under section 8(2) of the Freedom of Information Act (the ‘Act’) by the Minister and/or the Department..

(my emphasis)
Freedom of Information Response by Department of Health and Social Care to Michael Josem dated 18 November

It is inappropriate for the Health Minister to destroy documents like this which are of public interest. It’s morally wrong, and the House of Keys should investigate what other documents have been destroyed, and whether this is a deliberate attempt to avoid public scrutiny.

A Member of the House of Keys should now ask a question of the Health Minister: “When was this letter destroyed?”

Update (18 Nov): A comment on Twitter on this episode:

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