FOI reference: FOI/18/03576
Date received: 28 November 2018
Date responded: 18 December 2018
In relation to Freedom of Information requests
FOI/18/03284 request & internal review
(1) A copy of the FOI case log.
(2) A copy of all correspondence (excluding any to myself) and notes of meetings.
I enclose a copy of the information you requested, separately attached to the cover email with this response.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested, separately attached to the cover email with this response.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide two email exchanges (document 4 and 5) because an exemption under section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. We have also redacted a small amount of information from the documents provided because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies
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, ie names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. 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
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(ii) of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would be likely to inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. These exemptions recognise the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to seek views from colleagues before finalising responses to FOI requests and other enquiries. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions will substantially inhibit staff from providing such comments in the future in similar cases.
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 views when considering how to respond to an FOI request. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers and officials can properly and accurately answer FOI requests. They need full and candid discussion to enable them to do so. Disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such discussions 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