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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

SG officials at PAPLSC and Justice Sub-Committee meetings: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/01184
Date received: 23 May 2017
Date responded: 26 June 2017

Information requested

"Information from documents, meetings, communications, & discussions, relating to preparation for, and attendance of SG staff SPA Chair, CEO and serving & former Board members at PAPLSC on 20 April and 11 May 2017 and the Justice Sub-Committee on 18 May".

Response

Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Parliament Public Audit and Post-legislative Committee webpage (including membership), the Justice Sub-committee on Policing webpage (http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/committees) the Scottish Police Authority website (Corporate Governance Framework, Scheme of Delegation and Code of Conduct - www.spa.police.uk/welcome) and the Scottish Government website (On Board – A guide for board members of statutory bodies - http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00514817.pdf). Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) s.30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice), s.30 (b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views), s.36(1) (confidentiality in legal proceedings) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under sections s.30(b)(i)(free and frank provision of advice) and s.30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice and exchange views with Ministers and other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice and exchange of views on attendance at Parliamentary committees will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a controversial issue of governance. This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because transparency favours release. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining a private space for upholding the exemption.

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

Section 38(1)(b) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

FOI_17_01184_background_note.pdf

1 page PDF
12.0kB

FOI_17_01184_comments.pdf

1 page PDF
17.3kB

FOI_17_01184_websitelink.pdf

1 page PDF
9.8kB

FOI_17_01184_website_link.pdf

1 page PDF
27.7kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference.

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
11 Jul 2017
SG officials at PAPLSC and Justice Sub-Committee meetings: FOI release