FOI reference: FOI/18/00706
Date received: 27 February 2018
Date responded: 26 March 2018
Copies of all correspondence including but not limited to, emails, notes of telephone calls, letters, reports and publications concerning allegations of sexual abuse, prostitution or sexual misconduct on Scottish government funded aid or international development projects, or concerning officials, workers or volunteers connected on such projects between 27 February 2014 and 27 February 2018.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested in the format you asked for.
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 s.38(1)(b) (personal information) and s.30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies.
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, i.e. names/contact details of individuals and the name of the project so the victim cannot be identified, 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 applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on allegations related to Scottish Government funded international development work will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive issue such as sexual abuse.
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 policy on safeguarding vulnerable beneficiaries, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy 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