Publication - FOI/EIR release

Coronavirus testing: FOI release

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

Published:
29 Jul 2020
Coronavirus testing: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/2020000024736
Date received: 1 Apr 2020
Date responded: 9 Jul 2020
Information requested

Any agendas, briefings, minutes or notes (including handwritten notes), pertaining to any meetings involving any of the below individuals in relation to Coronavirus testing between 1st February 2020 and 1st April 2020.
Individuals: Nicola Sturgeon, Jeane Freeman, Jason Leitch, Catherine Calderwood

Response

Please find attached the information that is within the scope of your request. Please note that additional information relating the subject area, e.g. policy submissions, are held, but fall outwith the scope of this FOI request.
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.28(1) and s.38(1) (b) of FOISA applies to that information. The reason why these exemptions apply is explained below.

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, i.e names and contact details of Scottish Government employees, 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.

An exemption under section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and other administrations in the UK. 
It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations. The release of these communications about COVID-19 testing will mean that the other administrations in the UK are likely to be more reluctant to share such information with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other UK administrations.

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 maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the other administrations in the UK, and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest, such as COVID-19 testing. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications.

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