Publication - FOI/EIR release

Covid-19 outbreak following Nike conference held in Edinburgh: FOI release

Published: 14 Jun 2021

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

Published:
14 Jun 2021
Covid-19 outbreak following Nike conference held in Edinburgh: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000038482
Date received: 19 May 2021
Date responded: 5 Jun 2021
Information requested

1. All documents regarding a coronavirus outbreak following the Nike conference in Edinburgh. This should include any reports, or internal briefings prepared.

2. All internal correspondence regarding the coronavirus outbreak which occurred following a Nike conference in Edinburgh.

3. All correspondence between the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland regarding the coronavirus outbreak which occurred following a Nike conference in Edinburgh.

Response

The Scottish Government has some of the information you have asked for in the enclosed document.

You may find it helpful to note that some information has also been redacted because it does not fall within the scope of your request regarding the Nike event. For ease of reference this information is marked as [redacted – out of scope].

Some of the emails included in the response have been incorrectly dated February in the subject line (documents 9 &11 RE: Wednesday 4 Feb - New Cases). You will see from the timestamp of the emails the correct date and time is March. You will also note in documents 5 & 7 the date recorded in some parts is Tuesday 2 March, this is identified and amended in some places to reflect the accurate date of Tuesday 3 March.

The following exemptions have been applied to our response which are set out in the Annex.
Section 25(1) – Information Otherwise Accessible
Section 38(i)(b) - personal information
Section 30(b)(i) and (ii) – Free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation

Annex
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

Section 25(1) – Information Otherwise Accessible

An exemption under section 25 (1) applies to the letter the First Minister received from Ian Murray MP on 13 May 2020. This letter was published and is available at:
https://twitter.com/IanMurrayMP/status/1260577232105484297?s=20

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

An exemption under section s.38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it is the personal data of a third party, i.e. names and 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)(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 Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position which will be given. Disclosing the content of free and frank briefing material and discussions on aspects of the Scottish Governments response to Covid-19 in Scotland and in this case the handling of information in relation to a specific event will substantially inhibit such briefing in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue such as patient confidentiality.

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 advice and views to Ministers in briefing about the public health messaging in relation to this event. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly defend the Government’s decisions in relation to the public health messaging in relation to this event and more widely in relation to the Coronavirus in Scotland. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI
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.

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