FOI reference: FOI/18/00467
Date received: 9 February 2018
Date responded: 6 March 2018
0n the topic of my FOI requests subsequently numbered 17/02644, 17/02549, 17/02537, 17/02327, 17/02242, please provide any correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefs or otherwise) involving any of: special advisers, communications staff, civil servants, Ministers, or Scottish Government officials tasked with responding to FOI requests.
I enclose some of the information you have requested at Annex A of this letter. However we have applied exemptions under Section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and Section 38(1)(b) (personal data) of FOISA to some of this information.
I have also identified that we hold other pieces of correspondence which would fall within the scope of your request. However, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information because an exemption under Section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA applies to that information.
The reason why these exemptions apply is explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
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.
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 the Inquiry and the carrying out of 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.
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