Publication - FOI/EIR release

Communications in relation to possible assessors in the Sheku Bayoh Public Inquiry: FOI release

Published: 22 Feb 2021

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

Published:
22 Feb 2021
Communications in relation to possible assessors in the Sheku Bayoh Public Inquiry: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000119227
Date received: 3 Dec 2020
Date responded: 6 Jan 2021
Information requested

All communications to the Scottish Government from Aamer Anwar or Aamer Anwar & Co in relation to the appointment of possible Assessors to the Sheku Bayoh Public Inquiry.

Response

Following a search of our records there were two documents relevant to your request. I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested:

  • Letter from Mr Aamer Anwar to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice regarding the appointment of Assessors - 1 July 2020 - section 30(c) and 38(1)(b) exemptions applied

Exemptions under sections 30(c) (substantial prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) and 38(1)(b) (Third party personal data) of FOISA applies to this information. The section 30(c) exemption applies to the names of individuals nominated by the Bayoh family for the role of assessor. Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to conduct future Ministerial appointments because individuals nominated are not necessarily aware that their names are put forward and disclosing this information would reveal candidates that were not selected by the Cabinet Secretary or Lord Bracadale and may mean people are less willing to have their names put forward for such appointments in future, narrowing the field of candidates and potentially impacting on the breadth of experience and overall quality of such inquiries.  

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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the process of Ministerial appointments and ensuring that the Scottish Government is able conduct this aspect of its business effectively.

The section 38(1)(b) exemption applies to protect the personal information of a third party (their signature). 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,

  • Terms of Reference Discussion Paper - February 2020 - section 30(c) exemption applied

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information because an exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA applies to the full document. The exemption applies as disclosing detailed arguments on behalf of one the participants in the Inquiry would be likely to be substantially prejudicial to the Inquiry’s ability to conduct its affairs effectively. 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 recognise that the Sheku Bayoh Public Inquiry has generated a lot of public interest however, we have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in upholding the exemption and allowing the Inquiry to effectively conduct its work.

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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
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