Further to my letter of 17 January I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for copies of all correspondence, notes, text messages or other records in respect of
- Correspondence sent to the Cabinet Secretary, Humza Yousaf on 25 May and 11 June 2021 from PBW Law, Solicitors seeking a meeting with him and the decision that the Cabinet Secretary was too busy to meet the representatives of PBW Law.
- All correspondence, notes, records or other communications between the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf advising who they should meet with.
I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications. In reaching this conclusion I have re-examined the searches carried out for material relevant to your request as well as the material identified by those searches. In respect of the points you make on Parts 6 and 7 of your request, I have found that the exemptions mentioned were properly applied. The only modifications are that some of the material to which the exemption in section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) was applied contained legal advice and should have been withheld under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings). I have concluded that the public interest test was properly considered in both cases.
You make specific points:
- That it is not clear why legal advice would have been required. This was because the meetings sought in Professor Watson’s letters of 25 May and 11 June addressed legal issues and identified the possibility of litigation.
- That announcements have been made since 5 November which mean the context for consideration of the ‘free and frank exchange of views’ exemption has changed. The information sought in your request does not relate to decisions on the public inquiry such as the terms of reference and appointment of a chair. The announcement of such decisions therefore does not alter the original conclusion contained in Scott McEwen’s letter of 5 November.
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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