Meeting between SG and SPA 4 October 2017:FOI Release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/01445
Date received: 22 May 2018
Date responded: 14 June 2018

Information requested

All minutes and notes relating to the meeting between the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson MSP and Nicola Marchant and Malcolm Burr from the Scottish Police Authority which took place on the 4 October 2017. This should include minutes, notes taken of the meeting, agenda or any other papers pertaining to the meeting including handwritten notes.


I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. 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 an exemption under section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of FOISA applies to that information.The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below. In addition, officials' names have been redacted because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) applies.

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 Ministers to be able to meet in confidence, with external stakeholders such Malcolm Burr and Nicola Marchant who conducted the Executive Review of the SPA, to discuss the emerging findings of their work. Disclosing the content of this, without the consent of the stakeholders, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. This would significantly harm the Government's ability to carry out its work.

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 meet with appropriate external stakeholders. This private space is essential to allow constructive discussions to take place. The disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and the authors of the report, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

foi-18-01445 Briefing for meeting.pdf
foi-18-01445 Note of meeting.pdf


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top