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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Keith Brown MSP meeting with Russian Consul General: FOI release

Published: 18 Jul 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01373
Date received: 20 June 2017
Date responded: 13 July 2017

Information requested

  • The minutes from the meeting held between Keith Brown MSP and the Russian Consul General on 15 March 2017.

  • All correspondence before and after this meeting relating to the meeting.

Response

I enclose a copy of the following information:

  • Email exchanges (x2) between 1) Trade Policy and the Consul General's office and 2) Trade Policy and the Cabinet Secretary's Private Office leading into the meeting (attached as an email exchange x 2).

  • Briefing notes provided to Scottish Government attendees prior to the meeting (attached as a word document). Annexes C-E have been redacted (see below).

  • Notes (minutes) from the meeting between the Cabinet Secretary Mr Keith Brown and the Russian Consul General compiled by the Scottish Government's Trade Policy team, including discussion points and the names/positions of attendees (attached as a word document).

  • An email exchange between International Relations (Scottish Government) and the organisation Scottish Development International discussing the action point of pairing the Kaluga region of Russia to a Scottish region (attached as an email exchange).

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 exemptions under sections 33(1)(b) (commercial interests) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Annexes C-E inclusive of the briefing (provided to Ministers prior to the meeting that you have requested) are not held by the Scottish Government for the purposes of FOISA because we received it in confidence from the UK Government. This means that, under the terms of section 3(2)(a)(ii) of FOISA, we are unable to disclose it in response to your request. However, you may wish to submit a new request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who should be able to help you further:

FOI and DPA Team Information Management Department Foreign and Commonwealth Office Room K4.10 – K4.13 King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH foi-dpa.imd@fco.gov.uk

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-requesting-information-from-the-fco

Annex

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exemption applies.

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, i.e. 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.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information within the briefing document referring to a payment dispute. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the company involved due to a potential reputational risk to the organisation by disclosing the dispute, potentially harming their commercial prospects with that customer and others in the future. 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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which operate in the private sector.

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

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:
18 Jul 2017
Keith Brown MSP meeting with Russian Consul General: FOI release