Publication - FOI/EIR release

QI Consulting contract with Scottish Government for independent operational expert advice: FOI release

Published: 12 Mar 2020

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
12 Mar 2020
QI Consulting contract with Scottish Government for independent operational expert advice: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000017467
Date received: 24 Feb 2020
Date responded: 11 Mar 2020
Information requested

Your request is noted below:

“To ask Scottish Ministers to provide the contract that was drawn up and agreed between both parties that enabled Commodore van Beek to commence his review. In addition, Mr van Beek states in his letter above that the review would be carried out with a colleague, Bert Niven, a director of BN Consult Ltd. SC333136 at Companies House. If there was a contract for Mr Niven then that is required too.

It is not required that this FOI request provides any remuneration details of the contract between the Economy Directorate and VATIS Ltd or BN Consult Ltd. It is recognised that this data would be commercially sensitive but given the public interest of the issue of the financing and construction of the two vessels at FMEL 801/802 the contracts should be published in the public domain.

I am fully aware of the contents of FOI 03779 which provided 6 draw down reports and 2 quarterly reports and that Commodore van Beek recently gave evidence at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee as part of their current inquiry.

Please provide this contract between Scottish Ministers and VATIS Ltd including all correspondence/emails/phone call that led to the award of the contract to Mr van Beek and any documentation that formerly terminated the arrangement between both parties.”

Response

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 apply.

I will deal with your request in turn:

“to provide the contract that was drawn up and agreed between both parties that enabled Commodore van Beek to commence his review”

I have attached the contract between the Scottish Government and QI Consulting, the organisation through which Commodore van Beek was commissioned, for independent operational expert advice. You will note that certain information has been redacted and I can confirm that this has been done in line with the exemptions outlined in FOISA. The exemption that apply in this case are under Section 38 and Section 33 (Further information on both of these has been provided in Annex A).

“In addition, Mr van Beek states in his letter above that the review would be carried out with a colleague, Bert Niven, a director of BN Consult Ltd. SC333136 at Companies House. If there was a contract for Mr Niven then that is required too.”

We do not hold the information you seek for this request. Mr Niven was procured under the Celtic Framework for External Advisors. As such he would adhere to these Framework guidelines as part of his remit.

“Please provide this contract between Scottish Ministers and VATIS Ltd including all correspondence/emails/phone call that led to the award of the contract to Mr van Beek and any documentation that formerly terminated the arrangement between both parties”

This correspondence can be found on our website Link. As this information is already publicly available to you section 25(1) of FOISA applies. Further information on this has been provided in Annex A.

Annex A - Reasons for not providing information
Section 25(1) – Information otherwise accessible

The first exemption applies under section 25(1) of FOISA as some of the information is otherwise accessible and can be reasonably obtained.

Section 33(1)(b) – Commercial Interest

This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of one or all parties this information relates to.

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 and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of the parties involved,

Section 38(1)(b) – Personal data

This exemption applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. 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.

About FOI
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.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG