- 9 Mar 2020
Date received: 7 Feb 2020
Date responded: 6 Mar 2020
Please provide all information (eg, emails, texts, and phone records showing times and numbers called and/or times and numbers of calls received) relating to communications between Scottish Government officials, ministers and advisers; or between Scottish Government officials, ministers and advisers, and external individuals; relating to the Scottish Sun story about Derek Mackay (published online 11pm on Feb 5, 2019, and in the newspaper on Feb 6) and his subsequent resignation and preparations for his resignation statement being made public.
Please see Annex A for the information the Scottish Government holds within the scope your request.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested in full because exemptions under section 38(1)(b) (Personal data relating to third party) and 39(1) (Health and Safety) of FOISA applies to that information. Section 38(1)(b) can be applied when disclosure of the information requested would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the GDPR. 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 39(1) applies because we consider that release would be likely to endanger the safety of 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. While we recognise that there is some public interest in release of this information in order to promote openness, there is a much greater public interest in avoiding significant risks to the safety of Ministers.
With regards to your request for texts messages between Scottish Government ministers and advisers relating to the Scottish Sun story about Derek Mackay. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
With regards to your requests for communications involving Scottish Government officials and Scottish Government officials and external organisations. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600, as there are over 6000 officials. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12. You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example, you could restrict your request to a specific business area of the Scottish Government, as this would allow us to limit the searches that would require to be conducted. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.
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 Andrews House