More Sage documents to be published in transparency bid

Further documents from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) will be published later, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman has said, defending the Government’s approach to transparency.

On Tuesday Sage, which is advising ministers on the coronavirus outbreak response, published a cache of papers that have informed its advice.

The documents were published after increasing pressure on officials to make the workings of Sage public, and included a list of all documents discussed at its meetings.

Although the spreadsheet listed around 120 documents, only 28 have been published, with 16 released on Tuesday, including one on how to relax lockdown measures which has a large redacted section.

HEALTH Coronavirus ONS
(PA Graphics)

“We’ll publish all of the evidence in the coming weeks and months,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“Where some of the evidence remains under live consideration for policy decisions it isn’t appropriate to publish at this time.

“The only redactions are for advice still under development or where contact details have been removed.

“The redactions were carried out by officials working for the Government Office for Science in consultation with the documents’ authors.”

Papers that have not been published include one from February on when to stop contact tracing, and another on the impact of school closures.

The list also includes unpublished documents on the use of face masks, the risk of pets passing on the virus, and advice on restricting flights from specific countries.

The publication came the day after Sage revealed the names of 50 experts who have sat on the group, with two not wanting to be identified.

It came after calls for transparency over the group, with concerns raised of a lack of breadth of expertise and the presence of Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings in meetings.

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