Briefing documents created in advance of Keith Brown’s meeting with Amazon: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/03124  
Date received: 22 October 2018  
Date responded: 23 November 2018
Information requested

All briefing documents created in advance of the then Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown’s meeting with Amazon on 20 June 2018.

A list of everyone present at the meeting and its location.

Any notes taken at the meeting.

Any minutes created of the meeting.

Any action points created after the meeting.

I enclose a copy of some 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(s) under section(s) s.30(b)(i) Free and frank provision of advice of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.

In this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reasons why we don’t have the information are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies. 

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This extend to redacted information in Annex I – Scottish Business Pledge.

This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. It recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on policy review and development options will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future.

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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position, until the Government as a whole can adopt a final policy outcome that is sound and likely to be effective.


The Scottish Government does not have the information.

The Scottish Government does not have the following information you have asked for:

  • “Any notes taken at the meeting.“ – no formal notes were retained.
  • “Any minutes created of the meeting.” – no formal minutes were taken.

However, action points were taken for the meeting, specifically:

  • Mr Brown stating that he would continue to engage with Amazon at a senior level in the UK and in the US if necessary to pursue the matter of the real living wage.
  • Amazon to consider whether they develop new technologies in Scotland.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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-18-03124 Briefing documents


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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