Hospitality business owners' correspondence: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Copies of any emails received by Scottish Ministers from 1 August 2020 to date from anyone identified as owners of a hospitality business such as a bar, a restaurant, a café, a nightclub or similar.

2. How many meetings have Ministers in the Scottish Government had with anyone identified as owners of a hospitality business such as a bar, a restaurant, a café, a nightclub or similar from 1 August 2020 to date.


I enclose a copy of the information you requested to the extent that we have been able to identify it.

Copies of these emails are attached with personal data redacted (see exemption below). There are a number of caveats to this however:

  • Correspondence received by Government is recorded on a central correspondence system with a number of data fields identifying who the letter is to and from, dates, headline subject matter etc. It does not record the status of the correspondent.
  • We have therefore searched for subject criteria which would be most likely to bring up cases within the scope of your request (eg hospitality, bar, restaurant etc).
  • I have attached the cases which we have identified as having been received from correspondents who identified themselves as owners of a hospitality business such as a bar, a restaurant, a café or a nightclub.
  • Cases often have multiple queries of which only the most prominent subject is recorded on our correspondence system. There could be other cases which fall into the category of your request that have been recorded under different headings and would not show up in the searches undertaken.
  • To trawl all correspondence received by Government during the time period and search every individual case to be sure of identifying every such piece of correspondence which might fall within the scope of your request would exceed the cost limit. 

The answer to your question about meetings is that we have identified 17 such meetings. This includes meetings with sectoral bodies including UK Hospitality, and the Scottish Tourism Alliance where pubs and nightclubs etc are represented amongst the attendees.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to small amount 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 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.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. The reason for this is that to locate and retrieve that information we would need to conduct a search of all of the records of the Scottish Government. i have explained above how correspondence is recorded and how this impacts on our ability to search for material. Under Section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FoI-202000092800 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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