- 15 Oct 2018
Date received: 20 September 2018
Date responded: 12 October 2018
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(s) under section(s) S38(1)(b)(personal information) and 32(1)(a), International Relations of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and 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.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) of FOISA (international relations) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the UK Government and other States. In this case, the information about inter-governmental relations was given to the Scottish Government on the understanding that it would be treated as being in confidence. If the Scottish Government does not respect this confidence, the UK Government’s relations with other States and its ability to protect and promote UK interests will be substantially prejudiced. States, such as the Czech Republic and Switzerland are likely to be more reluctant to share sensitive information, such as inter-governmental relations, with Scotland or other parts of the United Kingdom in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications with the UK.
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 ensuring that the UK Government is able to maintain good relations with other States, in order to protect and promote UK interests abroad. There can be no public interest in jeopardising those relations by the Scottish Government disclosing confidential information or information which another State has specifically asked us to withhold.
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