“(a) provide us with copies of the legal advice which your government has received on this matter, and
(b) provide a comprehensive explanation as to why the Scottish Government is unable to apologise on this matter, yet is able to apologise for various other historical injustices which preceded devolution such as those referred to above”.
I have provided some information that you have requested.
A) While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information requested because an exemption under section 36(1), legal advice of FOISA applies to that information. The reason why that exemption applies is explained below.
Section 36(1) - legal advice.
An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.
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 release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
B) The Scottish Government recognise that the Gypsy/Traveller community has faced - and continues to face - significant discrimination, and has been subject to unacceptable historical practices. We must address the longstanding inequalities that the community faces in areas such as housing, education and health, and we am clear that improving outcomes for Gypsy/Traveller people is a matter of the utmost priority. Our Action Plan is collaborative in design and delivery. We are in constant dialogue with stakeholders and community members to identify issues and to look at solutions. We have heard, and understand, the need to explore the Tinker Experiment and its impact on families. Over the last year, we have had to focus work and resources on mitigating the impact of Covid on Gypsy/Traveller communities, and making progress with the Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan. However, the Minister for Equalities has instructed officials to explore the possibility of commissioning independent research into the Tinker Experiment to ensure we are able to fully capture and understand its implications, identify who was involved and affected, and ensure the community has the opportunity to share its story.
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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