Information

Report of the consultation regarding proposed Covid-19 Public Inquiry: FOI release

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


Information requested

1. What progress has been made on the creation of the Report on the consultation exercise on the Aims and Principles Paper?

2. Has the Report been finalised? If not, when is it anticipated that the Report will be finalised?

3. Has the Report been made available to the Scottish Ministers?

4. Have Scotland’s Law Officers been consulted about the concerns relating to a Section 28 Inquiry that I drew to your attention in my letter of 30th September 2021?

5. Has the Report been made available to the Chair Designate of the proposed Inquiry in terms of Section 10 of the Inquiries Act 2005 so that the Chair Designate may consider whether the Terms of Reference proposed by Scottish Ministers are appropriate?

6. If the Report is not to be published, I request a copy of the Report.

Response

1. The answer to your question is that the report is currently being finalised.

2. The answer to the first part of your question is that the report has not been finalised. The answer to the second part of your question is that we anticipate that the report will be finalised by 14 December 2021.

3. The answer to your question is that the report has not been made available to Scottish Ministers. As of the date of your request, work is still ongoing on finalising the report, and said report will be provided to Ministers once it is complete.

4. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, under section 18(1) of FOISA, a public authority may refuse a request where:

  • if the information existed and was held by the authority, it would be exempt from release under any of sections 28 to 35, 38, 39(1) or 41 of FOISA; and
  • the authority considers that to reveal whether the information exists, or is held by it, would be contrary to the public interest.

In this instance, if the information you request did exist or was held by us, an exemption under section 29(1)(c) of FOISA would apply to that information. This exemption would apply for the reasons set out in the Annex. We also consider that to reveal whether the information you have requested exists, or is held by the Scottish Government, would be contrary to the public interest, again for the reasons set out in the Annex. Accordingly, we are refusing this part of your request under section 18(1) of FOISA.

5. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information required to answer the question you have asked. The Scottish Government does not have this information because no person has, as at the date of your request, been identified as the “Chair Designate” of the proposed inquiry. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

6. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA (information intended for future publication) applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are set out below. This exemption applies because we intend to publish this information on 14 December 2021, which is within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this information before the planned publication date. 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 some public interest in releasing this information because the report will assist in shaping the terms of reference for the COVID-19 Inquiry and this interest will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

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.

FOI202100254852 - Annex

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

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