Publication - FOI/EIR release

Purchase agreement with Tata Steel for Dalzell and Clydebridge steelworks: FOI Review

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

Published:
13 Jul 2021
Purchase agreement with Tata Steel for Dalzell and Clydebridge steelworks: FOI Review
FOI reference: FOI/202100212787 Review of 202100203997
Date received: 11 Jun 2021
Date responded: 8 Jul 2021
Information requested

(1) The purchase agreement with Tata Steel for the purchase of the Dalzell and Clydebridge steelworks.

(2) A copy of the due diligence performed on the acquisition.

Response

You expressed that you were not satisfied with our reply to your original Freedom of Information (FoI) request which was allocated reference number 202100203997. You submitted the following request:

“The response is not satisfactory for the reasons set out below and so I am requesting an internal review:
(1) The exemptions claimed do not apply or do not apply to all the information redacted.
(2) Please check whether there was due diligence done on this transaction as that would be expected.
(3) The public interest test has not been properly carried out.
(4) The public interest favours disclosure.”

I have considered this case again, and I have conducted a comprehensive review of the response, and the reasons behind withholding the requested information. I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications. As such, I have attached a new version of the document that fell within the scope of your request with more information released.

Having reviewed this request and some of 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 due to the lapse in time since the initial release and this diminishing the effect of the commercial damage that would be caused. I have attached this as a separate document.

In terms of the information withheld in the Business Purchase Agreement itself, the information withheld would if released have a negative impact on the parties negotiating position with other buyers or sellers in the future should they enter into the sale or purchase of similar assets. Commercial entities and Scottish Ministers must be able to negotiate freely the commercial terms of agreements and release of this information may give competitors commercial insight. We therefore conclude that, although there is a public interest for transparency, this exemption still applies in order to protect the ongoing interests of the commercial parties involved, as well as the Scottish Government achieving best value for money.

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 financial information is not in the public interest given it could have a bearing on the future ability of the Scottish Government to negotiate terms with commercial organisations. It would – or would be likely to – affect our position in future relationship with commercial organisations seeking advice or support from the Scottish Government to safeguard Scotland’s commercial interests and protect jobs in those commercial organisations.

I have liaised again with the policy area and I am content that no due diligence is held. The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise supported Liberty’s acquisition of the Dalzell and Clydebridge steel works. I can confirm that due diligence was carried out however I would direct you to pressoffice@scotent.co.uk should you wish to make a request under the Freedom of Information Scotland Act for further information on the due diligence carried out.

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