FOI reference: FOI/18/02603
Date received: 20 September 2018
Date responded: 12 October 2018
You asked for Details of any minutes or correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, documents or otherwise) regarding John Swinney's visit to St John Ogilvie on 5 June.
I enclose a copy of all of the information you requested. Redactions to some of the information have been applied under Section 38(1) of FOISA to ensure the Scottish Government complies with requirements under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Reasons for not providing information
Sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) apply to some the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position which will be given in whatever final lines to take are used. Disclosing the content of free and frank briefing material on the material within the briefing annexes will substantially inhibit such briefing in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive issue.
These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in lines to take. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable) and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.
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