Publication - FOI/EIR release

Investigation related correspondence between Nicola Sturgeon and Liz Lloyd: FOI release

Published: 13 Feb 2019

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

Published:
13 Feb 2019
Investigation related correspondence between Nicola Sturgeon and Liz Lloyd: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00183
Date received: 17 Jan 2019
Date responded: 12 Feb 2019
Information requested

 

All correspondence between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her chief of staff Elizabeth Lloyd regarding allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond.

All correspondence between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her chief of staff Elizabeth Lloyd regarding an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond.

All correspondence between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her chief of staff Elizabeth Lloyd regarding the judicial review brought by Alex Salmond against the Scottish Government.

Response

 

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested, in the form of two emails between Nicola Sturgeon and Elizabeth Lloyd about the Parliamentary Statement on 8 January 2019, and an email about press lines. The statement as given is available on the Scottish Parliament website at; http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11871.

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 exemptions under sections 35(1)(c) and 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii), 36(1) and 38(1)(b) of FOISA apply to that information.

The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

Exemptions apply
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested, because it is the personal data of a third party.

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.

Section 35(1)(c) applies to some of the information requested because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the administration of justice. This exemption recognises that the disclosure of some information could prejudice court proceedings.

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 some public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the substantial public interest in ensuring that the courts in Scotland can operate without trials being prejudiced. In our assessment, release of this information could prejudice a case currently in court in Scotland.

Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) apply to some of 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 senior officials and Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views before reaching the settled public position in a parliamentary statement. Disclosing the content of free and frank exchanges will substantially inhibit policy development in the future.

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 offer provide free and frank advice and views.

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.

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 some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

 

About FOI

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG