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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

First Minister visit to Tata Steel: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02451
Date received: 19 October 2017
Date responded: 14 November 2017

Information requested

You requested the following:

  • Minutes and correspondence (emails, phone calls, notes, letters and otherwise) surrounding Nicola Sturgeon's meeting with Sanjeev Gupta - Liberty Steel on 24 August 2016.

  • Minutes and correspondence (emails, phone calls, notes, letters and otherwise) surrounding Nicola Sturgeon's meeting on 22 October 2015 at Tata Steel Works, Clydebridge and Dalzell plants.

  • Minutes and correspondence (emails, phone calls, notes, letters and otherwise) surrounding Nicola Sturgeon's meeting with Sanjeev Gupta on 18 December 2015.

Response

I enclose a copy of the relevant information we have on file. We have no record of the meeting taking place between the First Minister and Sanjeev Gupta on 24 August 2016 or on 18 December 2015. I have included the records we hold surrounding the meeting which took place on 22 October 2015. Annex A explains why certain details have been redacted.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption under 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.

An exemption under Section 29(1)(a) - formulation or development of government policy:

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the development of Scottish Government policy.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on the retail strategy and NDR will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

An exemption under section 33 (1)(b) - disclosure would (or would be likely to) prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person or organisation:

Information which is commercially sensitive is often described as being "commercially confidential." However, there is no single exemption in FOISA covering "commercial confidentiality". FOISA draws a distinction between information where disclosure would have a detrimental effect on commercial interests, and information which is "confidential" under Scots law.

An exemption under section 36 (2) - the information was obtained by a Scottish public authority and disclosing it would constitute an actionable breach of confidence:

Only the exemption in section 36(1) is subject to the public interest test in FOISA. This means that, even if the exemption applies, the information must be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding it outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. Although the exemption in section 36(2) isn't subject to the public interest test in FOISA, the public interest can play a role in deciding whether the exemption applies.

An exemption under section 25 - exempts information from disclosure where the requester can reasonably obtain the information without making a request for it. It is not about withholding the information from the public, but recognises that where information is already available to the requester, there is no need to provide an alternative right of access to it through the Act.

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:
16 Nov 2017
First Minister visit to Tata Steel: FOI release