- 20 Oct 2017
FOI reference: FOI/17/02057
Date received: 11 September 2017
Date responded: 17th October 2017
You asked for:
a) The contents of all Scottish Government correspondence with PSP Media, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland with regard to Scottish Golf Tourism Week 2017.
b) All information held regarding promotional materials for the event - including the wording of press releases - and the role of the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop in promoting it.
I enclose a copy of some the information you requested in pdf format.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for officials to be able to communicate, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including the planning of an event being delivered by stakeholders. Disclosing the content of these communications, particularly without the consent of the stakeholder, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. These stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue such as commercial information relating to a third party event organiser. This would significantly harm the Government's ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed decisions.
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 allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on an external stakeholders event, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by VisitScotland. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
Additionally, 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, ie contact details of individuals, and disclosing it 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 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