Publication - FOI/EIR release

Documents relating to parliamentary question (S5W-14673): EIR release

Published: 4 Jun 2018

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Published:
4 Jun 2018
Documents relating to parliamentary question (S5W-14673): EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01247
Date received: 27 April 2018
Date responded: 29 May 2018

Information requested

Copies of the following reports mentioned in a response to a parliamentary question by Alasdair Allan (S5W-14673).

Since 2005 the Scottish Government has received 6 reports related to financial propriety in relation to projects funded from our International Development Fund.

Copies of all documents and correspondence sent and received by the Scottish Government in connection with these reports.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested which sets out the six cases of financial impropriety referred to in Dr Allan's respose to PQ (S5W-14673). All six cases were fully investigated by the Scottish Government and no SG funds were lost in each case.

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on the allegations of corruption and fraud made against projects in our partner countries will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to such a sensitive issue.

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 explore and refine the Government's position on the allegations, until the Government as a whole can adopt a view that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption has also been applied under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) and applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names/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.

About FOI

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG