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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

First Minister meeting Dr Tim Cook: FOI release

Published: 9 Nov 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02408
Date received: 12 October 2017
Date responded: 8 November 2017

Information requested

All communications in the request for a meeting, organisation of the meeting and communications between Apple and the Scottish Government in relation to the First Minister's meeting with Dr Tim Cook on April 3, 2017.

Any notes or minutes taken during the meeting.

All briefing documents made for the First Minister in advance of the meeting.

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The reason the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested is because the meeting was facilitated by Scottish Development International.

Scottish Enterprise may hold this information and can be contacted by email at enquiries@scotent.co.uk

This is a formal notice under section 17(1)(b) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.

With regards to "All briefing documents made for the First Minister in advance of the meeting" I enclose a copy of that document at Annex B of this letter. However, 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 s.30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions) apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions with Apple on potential future opportunities will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken.

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, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on future opportunities until the Government as a whole can adopt a [policy/decision] that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual's contribution was released against their wishes. An exemption under section38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested as follows:

This information relates to personal data relating to a third party and applied in the following cases:

  • Scottish Government officials below the Senior Civil Service.

It would not be the expectation of these individuals that their personal information would be released and may cause them damage or distress to do so.

I am satisfied that the information that has been withheld constitutes the 'personal data' of the individuals concerned, as defined in section 1(1) of the DPA.

In coming to the decision to withhold personal data on the basis that it would be unfair to release it, we have taken into consideration:

  • seniority of the individuals' positions;

  • any potential damage or distress which may be caused by disclosure of the information;

  • expectations of the data subjects with regard to the release of the information.

It would not be within the expectation of these individuals that their personal data would be put into the public domain under FOISA.

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

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:
9 Nov 2017
First Minister meeting Dr Tim Cook: FOI release