Publication - FOI/EIR release

FOI request 202000077960 regarding Former First Minister various questions: FOI release

Published: 4 Feb 2021

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

Published:
4 Feb 2021
FOI request 202000077960 regarding Former First Minister various questions: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000093492
Date received: 30 Sep 2020
Date responded: 27 Jan 2021
Information requested

"I note the above Freedom of Information request answered on 23rd September 

Secondly, which official/officials provided the information which suggested the November 9th date?
And on whose instruction was it included in the answer?

Thirdly, and please treat this last point as an FOI in itself as well as a question, kindly supply all emails, text messages or WhatsApp messages relating to the answering of the FOI of 20th August."

Response

In relation to the first part of your second question, while our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. 

It may help if I explain that the information was not provided by an individual but was instead identified through searches of our corporate records. This is formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information that you requested.

In relation to the second part of your second question, while our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. This is because no-one instructed that the information be included. This is formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information that you requested.

It may help if I set out our usual processes for responding to FOI requests, which were followed on this occasion. FOI requests are allocated to casehandlers to be dealt with who undertake searches for information within the scope of a request. Casehandlers then assess the information to determine whether it is within scope, and if it is within scope, consider whether any exemptions apply. The casehandler then prepares a draft response and collates the information proposed for disclosure. In accordance with the Criteria for Decision-making, the draft is then passed to an official of appropriate seniority for a decision (if it is a routine request in terms of the Criteria) or to a Minister (if it is a sensitive request). Once the decision-maker has decided they are content with the draft response, it is issued to the requester.

In relation to your third question, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information that you have requested because exemptions under sections 25 (information otherwise accessible), 36(1) (legal privilege) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

The information you request is enclosed with this response. Please note that there is no significance to the numbering of the documents.

Section 25 (information otherwise available)
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. Documents that were released in response to FOI 202000077960 are not included in this response.

Section 36(1) (legal privilege)
An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because some of the documents and correspondence are covered by legal professional privilege.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest' test. Therefore, taking into account all of 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 private or public organisation.

Section 38(1)(b) (personal information)
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some parts of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, for example names of individuals or other personal data, and that information has been redacted or not disclosed. 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.

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