Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on 6/1/22, Humza Yousaf said: “If you look at the numbers of actual Covid cases, if you remember the [Omicron evidence] paper we published in early December, we’re clearly into the worst-case scenario in terms of levels of infection."
All information held regarding this claim that the data was indicative of “the worst-case scenario”, including discussion about its genesis and accuracy both prior to and after 6/1/22.
I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for:
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on 6/1/22, Humza Yousaf said: “If you look at the numbers of actual Covid cases, if you remember the [Omicron evidence] paper we published in early December, we’re clearly into the worst-case scenario in terms of levels of infection.” You asked for all information held regarding this claim that the data was indicative of “the worst-case scenario”, including discussion about its genesis and accuracy both prior to and after 6/1/22.
I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications. The original case handler provided links to the Omicron evidence paper and the weekly Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic research findings publication responding under section 25(1) of FOISA as the information was reasonably accessible.
I am satisfied that the information required to show that the data was indicative of “the worst-case scenario” is available in the documents at the links provided by the original case handler. I am also satisfied that all relevant material was considered. However, the published documents do not include information on discussions about the genesis and accuracy of the claim.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested, originally considered to be out of scope because the published information provided supported what Mr Yousaf said. On review, I have concluded that some of this information is in scope and should be provided to you. The information included covers an email discussion on 6 and 7 January 2022 in response to communications queries regarding comments made by Mr Yousaf.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of iindividuals, 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 exemption 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 exemption.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions between officials on statements made by Ministers will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these officials will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue such whether a statement made by a Minister is correct.
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 officials a private space within which to communicate so that officials can have a free and frank exchange of views to determine whether comments made by Ministers are correct. This private space is essential to enable officials to express a view that a Minister may have said something incorrect, which could prevent corrections being made where required, which would not be in the public interest.
On review, the original case handler should have noted that some of the information you requested was available in the document provided, that some of the information you requested was exempt under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views), and explicitly confirmed that the Scottish Government does not hold some of the information requested and responded under section 17(1) of FOISA regarding discussion about the genesis and accuracy of the claim prior to 6 January 2022. Therefore, regarding discussion about the claim’s genesis and accuracy prior to 6 January 2022, this is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not hold the information requested.
I apologise for any confusion caused.
Outwith FOISA I have provided some information provided by the original case handler in the bullets below to hopefully help explain Mr Yousaf’s comment.
- On 6 Jan 2022, Mr Yousaf indicated Scotland was in the worst case scenario in terms of infections.
- As at 6 Jan 2022, on 3 Jan 2022 the number of positive tests (by specimen date) recorded in Scotland was 16,405 (based on latest data the figure for 3 Jan is now over 19,000). Based on ascertainment ranging from 100% to 25% the estimated number of infections on 3 January based on data as at 6 January was between 16,405 and 65,620 respectively.
- On 6 Jan 2022 the most up to date available modelling report featuring infections estimates was issue 83 of the modelling the Epidemic (Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic (issue no.83) - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)), which indicated a range of infections for the worse scenario of between 39,000 to 73,000 on 3 Jan 2022.
- Therefore, Mr Yousaf was correct to indicate on 6 Jan 2022 that infections may be in line with the worse scenario, based on modelling publically available from 23 Dec 2021 (Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic (issue no.83) - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)).
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.
FOI 202200290996 - Information released
- File type
- 13 page PDF
- File size
- 675.7 kB
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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