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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Lady Smith's appointment to the Child Abuse Inquiry: FOI release

Published: 28 Nov 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02552
Date received: 26 October 2017
Date responded: 23 November 2017

Information requested

The date and correspondence of when John Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon, or the relevant Scottish Minister if it is another, contacted the Lord President of the Court of Session to consult them regarding the appointment of Lady Smith to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested at Annex B which shows that the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney met with the Lord President on 7 July to discuss potential candidates for Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. However, some names and contact details have been redacted because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal data) applies to that information. This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third party 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.

For the remainder of your request I have identified that we hold another piece of correspondence which would fall within the scope of your request, which I have attached at Annex C, however we have applied exemptions under Section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice). Also some names and contact details have been redacted because an exemption under Section 38(1)(b) (personal data) applies to that information. The reason why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Section 30(b)(i) – (free and frank provision of advice)

This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank provision of advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of this advice relating to appointment process for the Chair of the Inquiry as part of the Minister's statutory duties under the Inquiries Act 2005, would substantially inhibit the provision of such advice 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, 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 explore and refine the Government's position.

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 some 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

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:
28 Nov 2017
Lady Smith's appointment to the Child Abuse Inquiry: FOI release