Flag Flying Protocol/Flag Guidance – Union Flag: FOI release

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

Information requested

  1. The Scottish Government Flag Protocol/ Flag Guidance versions 1 through 22 show only insignificant changes. Between versions 22 & 23 the instances of flying the Union Flag reduced from 15 to 1. Which office holder in the Scottish Government decided and communicated that reduction and to which Scottish Government dept.?
  2. In relation to any changes made between versions 22 & 23, was it the one person/office holder in question 1 above who decided each individual instance of the Union flag flying between versions 22 & 23? If not who else was involved in that decision making?
  3. Was there a meeting at any level within the Scottish Government out with the Cabinet, Parliament and Governance Division to discuss the changes between 22 & 23? and if so can you provide a copy of the minutes and/or participants?
  4. Was there an administrative sign-off procedure to instigate changes between versions 22 & 23 at the time of the changes? If so was that procedure followed and is there a record? if so please provide it.
  5. I understand the decision to 'update' the flag protocol/guidance was taken by the then Deputy Director of the Cabinet, Parliament and Governance Division James Hynd. What process instigated him to update to version 23 from version 22 with the aforementioned significant changes? What his Director involved in that process?
  6. If, as I understand it, there was no ministerial or other external Scottish Government sign-off to make the changes outside of the CPGD, who in the CPGD gave the protocol department specific instructions to make the specific changes between versions 22 & 23, and can you provide me with that instruction?


1 & 2. There was no reduction in the number of days the Union flag was flown as a consequence of version 23 compared to version 22. The updated guidance clarified the prevailing practice.

The operational guidance was updated by Protocol and Honours Team who sit within Cabinet, Parliament and Governance Division and approved by the Deputy Director James Hynd.

3.  There is no information held as there was no meeting. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

4.   Protocol and Honours developed updated guidance which was sent to and approved by the Deputy Director James Hynd. Attached is a copy of the information you requested. You will see that personal data has been redacted. This is because an exemption under section 38 (1) (b) of FOISA (personal information) applies. Disclosing personal information would contravene data protection principles in schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

5.  The guidance is updated on an annual basis as required. There was no change to the number of days the Union flag was flown in version 23, compared to version 22. The Director for Cabinet and Constitution Directorate, had no involvement in these matters.

6.  We can confirm that Scottish Ministers had no role in the updating of the operational guidance as there was no change in policy. The annual update is dealt with administratively in the Protocol and Honours Team, in the Cabinet, Parliament and Governance Division under Deputy Director James Hynd.

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foi-19-01399 Information requested


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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