On 5th May ’21 Fergus Ewing sent a letter to Mr Sanjeev Gupta of GFG Alliance and I would like to request a copy of Mr. Gupta’s response to said letter and any subsequent communication directly related to the matters covered in this communication between Mr Ewing and Mr Gupta , the Scottish Government, GFG Alliance or any representatives of aforementioned entities.
Attached is a copy of the information requested. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested as exemption under FOI(S)A apply. Further information on what exemptions apply and why can be found in the Annex.
Please find the correspondence found that falls within the scope of your request attached separately. We would also like to advise that no further subsequent communication related to the letter was held that was not released in previous responses issued to you referenced 202100201796 and 202100221928.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
Section 30(c) – Prejudicial to the Effective Conduct of Public Affairs
An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some the information requested. It is essential for Ministers to be able to communicate, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues. Disclosing the content of these communications, particularly without the consent of the stakeholder, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. These stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly in future correspondence if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken, and/or these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue. This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed policies and decisions.
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, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position on matters, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by GFG. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy and decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
Section 33(1)(b) – Commercial Interest and the Economy
An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it is likely to prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the business. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the company in question. This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking into 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 some public interest in release to ensure full transparency. However, this is outweighed by the public interest as there is a risk to the companies commercial interests and the subsequent effect that damage could do to employees.
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.
- File type
- 3 page PDF
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- 349.8 kB
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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