- 31 Oct 2019
Date received: 2 Oct 2019
Date responded: 29 Oct 2019
All correspondence and information including but not limited to documents, reports, calls logged, notes of meetings and emails between the Scottish Government and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in relation to the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.
I would like this information from the date of 01/01/2019 until today’s date 16/09/2019 or more recent if applicable.
As the information you have requested is classed as ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs) we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. This has no outcome on the information disclosed.
To manage your request under EIR we require to apply the exemption at section 39 (2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
That 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, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
Between 1 January 2019 and 17 October there have been a number of communications between the Scottish Government and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). I have arranged copies of all relevant exchanges in the attached annexes, A to C.
In addition, you may wish to be aware that the details of other Freedom of Information requests on this or similar subjects are available online at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/?publicationTypes=foi-eir-release&page=1/
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 exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some the information requested because it is personal data of a third party. Disclosing personal data protection contravenes 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 exception 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 exception.
In addition, an exception under regulation 10(5)(f) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) who provided that information to the Scottish Government. In providing this information to the Scottish Government, the RZSS:
- were not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
- did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made available; and;
- have not consented to disclosure.
This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of anyone, such as Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), who provides the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis. Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on the issue you have asked about. This would significantly impair the Scottish Government’s ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This 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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House