Publication - FOI/EIR release

Guarantee and Reimbursement Agreement (GRA) with GFG Alliance companies: FOI Review

Published: 7 Jul 2021

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

Published:
7 Jul 2021
Guarantee and Reimbursement Agreement (GRA) with GFG Alliance companies: FOI Review
FOI reference: FOI/202100206370 Review of 202100196377
Date received: 21 May 2021
Date responded: 21 Jun 2021
Information requested

‘Please can you supply the following information:

The Guarantee and Reimbursement Agreement (GRA) between Scottish Ministers and GFG Alliance companies and any subsequent amendments made to the agreement.

The Guarantee Fee Letter which sets out the terms of the guarantee fee and any subsequent amendments made to the letter.’

Response

I have been asked to look at your request afresh, to decide whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, as appropriate, or that a fresh decision should be substituted. I can confirm that I was not involved in the handling or decision-making around the original response.

I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications.

Having reviewed this request and the information previously withheld, I have concluded that some of the information previously withheld under section 33(1)(b) (commercial prejudice) was incorrectly withheld and can now be disclosed. I have attached this as a separate document.

I am however satisfied that an exemption under section 33(1)(b) was appropriately applied to some of the information previously withheld. This has been applied to specific pieces of information related to the commercial interests of the parties to the GRA. We have applied this exemption as release of the information would – or would be likely to – prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the commercial entities involved. Release of this information is likely to weaken the negotiating position of the business while providing commercially sensitive information to competitors. It is also likely to have an impact on the long term profitability and attractiveness of the business to future investors.

In withholding this information, we are mindful of the further need to apply the public interest test given exemption 33(1)b is subject to this test. In applying that test, we again conclude that release of this information is not in the public interest given it could have a bearing on and potentially prejudice the commercial interests of the parties involved in terms of placing them at a competitive disadvantage. It is in the public interest that the GFG Alliance can negotiate effectively in commercial contexts to ensure the continued profitability and viability of the business, given its position as a major source of employment in the West Highlands.

I have also given further consideration to the information previously withheld under section 38(1)(b) (personal information). I have determined that whilst we were entitled to apply this exemption to the names and contact details of officials, and equivalent third party representatives below senior civil service (SCS) level and the direct contacts of more senior officials, we were not entitled to withhold the names the more senior colleagues. This is because senior officials would have less expectation of privacy and in some cases their personal information is publically available. Where appropriate I have disclosed this information in the revised copies of the documents provided.

I hope that this revised version of the material and the above rationale for the remaining material redacted under exemption is useful to you and that it provides the information you are seeking.

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