- 19 Oct 2017
FOI reference: FOI/17/02051
Date received: 11 September 2017
Date responded: 17 October 2017
Please provide me with dates of contacts and copies of any letters, emails, notes of meetings and or phone calls between the officers of Scottish Government (probably Ms Aileen McKechnie) and the Scottish Funding Council (probably its then chief executive Mr Laurence Howells) between 19th February and 31st October 2015 in respect of (a) the suspension of the Principal at Glasgow Clyde College (b) the Scottish Funding Council's statutory governance review under Section 7(7)C of the Education Act 2005, as amended (c) and the appointment of a new board at Glasgow Clyde College as announced by Cabinet Secretary in Parliament on 8th October 2015 . If any of these meetings or phone calls were "informal", please state whether or not these were recorded in the diaries of the Scottish Government officers.
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 the Scottish government do not hold this information or an exemption(s) applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained at the bottom of this letter. Some of the information is provided at Annex B and any attachments that where embedded in correspondence are provided in Annex C.
Due to the file size of Annex C, copies can be provided on request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the FOI reference number FOI/17/02051
Reasons for not providing information
Exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information)
This applies to some of the information requested because it contains personal data of a third party, i.e. Scottish Government official names below Senior Civil Service and their direct contact details. This information has been redacted throughout the documents which are being released. Disclosing this information 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.
The Scottish Government does not have the information
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because we hold no further records of any meetings/ calls regarding these issues from February 2015 to October 2015.
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test Section 33(1) (b) – commercial interests
An exemption under section 33(1) (b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of all legal companies involved. Disclosing this information would be likely to give the company's competitors an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice their ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.
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 companies which enter into, Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.
Section 36(1) – legal advice
An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.
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 some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
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