- 30 Dec 2019
Date received: 23 Nov 2019
Date responded: 24 Dec 2019
I have been informed by the Citizens Assembly that they are outside the scope of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. This is an extremely concerning state of affairs. I will be obliged if you would provide all information held by the Scottish Government that discusses the status of the Citizens’ Assembly for the purposes of FOISA.
The recorded information held by the Scottish Government on the status of the Citizens’ Assembly comprises exchanges of views between civil servants on the topic captured in the email discussions, documents and extracts of documents enclosed in Annex A of this letter and in Documents 1 - 3, enclosed. The outcome of these exchanges of views is reflected in the Information Handling Policy on the Citizens’ Assembly website which can be accessed online at: https://www.citizensassembly.scot/sites/default/files/inline-files/Information%20handling%20policy.pdf
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance, exemptions under sections 36(1) (confidentiality in legal proceedings) and 38(1)(b) (Personal Information) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested. The reasons why these exemptions apply is explained in Annex B of this letter.
Annex B - Reasons for not providing information
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 Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party (i.e. names/contact details of individuals), and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. 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.
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