FOI reference: FOI/18/00231
Date received: 26 January 2018
Date responded: 22 February 2018
All correspondence and any records of that correspondence (including minutes, records of phone calls, agendas, meetings, emails, letters, handwritten notes etc.) between (i) Kenneth Hogg and (ii) Paul Johnston or anyone in Michael Matheson's private office (including the minister himself) on the subject of the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland between 1 September 2017 and 31 December 2017.
I enclose some of the information you requested. 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 38(1)(b) (personal information) and 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA applies. The reasons why those exemptions apply are set out below.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) FOISA applies to some information requested. The exemption applies to this information because it is personal data of staff and disclosure 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 applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) also applies to some information. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to other officials in order to reach a settled view. Disclosing the content of information on workforce planning and deployment issues will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly when these discussions relate to appointments to business critical positions.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'.Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, I have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. I have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. I 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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to other senior officials, to ensure that the right appointments are made.This private thinking space is essential to allow options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken in respect of our HR resourcing policies.Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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