FOI reference: FOI/17/02838
Date received: 21 November 2017
Date responded: 19 December 2017
Please disclose all correspondence relating to The Scottish Independent Review of the Use, Safety and Efficacy of Transvaginal Mesh Implants in the Treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence and Pelvic Organ Prolapse in Women between Ministers of the Scottish Government, civil servants, members of the review group including the Chair, and Dr. Catherine Calderwood. This should include emails, physical letters, notes of telephone conversations, notes or minutes taken of meetings and conversations, agendas, pre-meeting briefings, any action points pertaining to the aforementioned, and lists of all people in attendance. The timeframe this should cover will be 01/01/2017 until the present day.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you have requested, and I attach it as an annex to this letter. However, whilst 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 section 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice and free and frank exchange of views) applies to that information. The reasons why the exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter. In addition, a small amount of personal information has been redacted under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA.
I should also explain that the Independent Review Group of Transvaginal Mesh was set up as an independent review body and therefore it is not a part of the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government provided the Secretariat for the Review Group which means that the Group's correspondence, meeting papers, and other information are held by the Scottish Government on behalf of the Review Group in terms of section 3(2)(a)(i) of FOISA, and so are not held by the Scottish Government in its own right for purposes of FOISA. Therefore, this is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not hold these parts of the information you requested.
Reasons for not providing information
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested. The exemptions apply because some of the information is free and frank advice or views by and between Scottish Government officials and Ministers. Disclosure of this information would be likely to inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice or exchanges of views by those staff, and other stakeholders, in future. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers.
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. The Scottish Government recognises that, given the concerns in relation to the process of the Independent Review, expressed in Parliament and elsewhere, in the interests of transparency there is some public interest in release. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that the Scottish Government has a private space within which to thoroughly consider matters than in releasing the information.
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