Details of preparations for Papal visit during COP26: FOI review

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

Information requested

In conducting my review, I have focussed on the specific points of dissatisfaction you raise. I have identified four key points within your request for review:

  1. Within the provided response there is no attempt made to answer what measures were put in place by the Scottish Government to accommodate any attempt by the Holy Father to communicate Divine Mercy. I would therefore request this is reviewed and all and any information detailing such is provided to the People of Scotland.
  2. In relation to 32(1)(a). During review unless the provision of the information would substantially harm the international relations or interests of Vatican City State, I would request the information is disclosed in the public interest.
  3. I would also challenge the use of Section 30(b)(i) and (II) by this government the Scottish public, particularly the Scottish Catholic public, should be able to see this information unless the information is information given to it by Vatican City or her representatives; the Scottish public should be able to see what was discussed, in order to make sure nothing anti-Catholic, anti-papal or anti-religious was said within its discussions. I would therefore at review request that all discussion material by the government of Scotland or the United Kingdom Government is disclosed in full.
  4. Finally, in terms of redacted info, save the info of the Bishops of Scotland in this matter or any of the Vatican’s representatives I would request at review that all redacted info concerning the Scottish Government, British Government and its office holders are redacted for the public. I await a review response.


I have been asked to look at your request afresh, to decide whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, as appropriate, or that a fresh decision should be substituted. I can confirm that I was not involved in the handling or decision-making around the original response.

I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications. In conducting my review, I have given further consideration to the information withheld. I have reconsidered the appropriateness of the exemptions applied and where applicable the public interest test.

I have determined that whilst exemptions under section 32(1)(a) international relations and section 38 (1) (b) personal information, continue to apply for the reasons set out in our initial response, these exemptions did not apply to all of the information previously withheld. I have therefore determined that a small amount of additional information previously withheld can now be disclosed. I have provided this information in the attachment to this letter.

The initial response exempted information under sections 30(b)(i) and (ii) (free and frank advice and exchange of views). I have determined that information exempt should continue to apply for the reasons set out in the initial response. However for clarity, I am withholding this information under section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) only.

Further comment in relation to your specific points:
In relation to point 1, you ask for information relating to what measures were put in place by the Scottish Government to accommodate any attempt by the Holy Father to communicate Divine Mercy. I can confirm the Scottish Government holds no information on this topic, and that any information that was relevant would have been identified and considered as part of our response to your initial request had it been held.

In relation to point 3, whilst the information in scope is withheld under the exemptions set out above, I would like to take the opportunity to reassure you that none of the information exempt from release could be considered as anti-Catholic, anti-papal or anti-religious.

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FOI 202200297934 Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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