Publication - FOI/EIR release

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands meeting with SPPO: FOI review

Published: 10 Sep 2021

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

Published:
10 Sep 2021
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands meeting with SPPO: FOI review
FOI reference: FOI/202100227775 review of 202100218180
Date received: 4 Aug 2021
Date responded: 20 Aug 2021
Information requested

Your request, reference 202100218180
I understand that Mr Tavish Scott, representing Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, held a meeting with Ms Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands on 10th June 2021.

I would like to request a copy of the Minutes of this meeting please.

Your request for review, reference 202100227775
I believe that the level of public interest in this information has been underestimated. I suggest that all matters regarding aquaculture and discussions between a minister and a senior industry figure have potentially enormous impacts on the people living on the west coast of Scotland.

I would like to ask you if it is really the case that no Minutes were taken of the meeting in question. Could you please confirm that? It would be very concerning to know that such practices were being perpetuated under a new minister. I suggest that, if such Minutes do exist then they should be released under my request.

Response

Further to my acknowledgment letter of 4 August 2021, I have now completed my review of our response to your request (202100218180) under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs) for “minutes of meeting between SSPO and Ms Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands of 10 June 2021.

Your review request states that you consider “that the level of public interest in this information has been underestimated” and that “all matters regarding aquaculture and discussions between a minister and a senior industry figure have potentially enormous impacts on the people living on the west coast of Scotland”. Your request also asks for confirmation that no Minutes were taken of the meeting in question.

I have concluded that a different decision should be substituted.

In conducting my review I have re-examined the searches undertaken at the initial stage to identify all of the information held within the scope of your request. I am satisfied that the relevant note of the meeting was identified during that process. Our original response to your request confirmed that such a document did exist but that an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to the information and it was therefore withheld.

I have also re-examined the application of the 10(4)(e) EIR exception (internal communications) and the subsequent application of the public interest test:

  • I have concluded that the note of the meeting on 10 June 2021 does fall within exception regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications).
  • I have concluded that the note of the meeting on 10 June 2021 should not have been withheld in its entirety. Under the Regulations, the presumption is in favour of disclosure and when I reapplied the public interest test, I found it to be in favour of [partial] release.

Following the review process, exceptions and the public interest test have been reconsidered, and the information is now to be provided. Please find attached the meeting note between SSPO and Ms Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands of 10 June 2021.

The attachment contains most of the information you requested. An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, 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 exception 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 exception.

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