FOI reference: FOI/17/01828
Date received: 9 August 2017
Date responded: 5 September 2017
All briefings prepared for the First Minister's meeting with Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador on December 2, 2016; and all communications, minutes, action points or notes taken following the meeting.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested at Annex B of this letter.
Please note that this was a private event with no official support and therefore, no notes, action points or minutes were taken during or following the meeting. I have also redacted parts of the correspondence due to the subject matter being of no relevance to your enquiry.
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 under section 32(1)(a)(i) (substantial prejudice to international relations) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why this exemption applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) of FOISA (international relations) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the United Kingdom and other European Governments and the European Union. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the UK Government and other States. There is a vital public interest in allowing Scottish Ministers and officials a private space within which to engage in full and frank discussions with their counterparts in other States/international organisations. Such discussion makes for better quality and better informed policies and decisions on issues with an international dimension and aids the protection and promotion of UK interests abroad. Inappropriate disclosure is likely to damage other States' confidence and trust in the UK and thus undermine future discussions and international relations more generally.
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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in ensuring that the UK Government is able to maintain good relations with other States or international organisations, in order to protect and promote UK interests abroad.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House