Name redactions and transparency of Freedom of Information (FOI) responses: FOI release

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

Information requested

Clarification of the use of exceptions to redact names and its impact on the transparency of Freedom Of Information (FOI) responses, specifically in relation to material released as part of the Scottish Government's response to your previous FOI request (reference 202300342230).


  1. You requested a number of points of clarification within your request. I have provided the answers to your questions in the table below.




A quote from the March 7 letter from Clinical Priorities (in their FOI role) claimed: "S.38(i)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to the removed names. Otherwise, most of Section 30 is open to challenge and FOISA throughout should have a presumption of transparency. I’ve been advised that this exemption should not apply on refusal to name people on the “Pain Management Task Force". Names relate to the public work of publicly paid officials, not private lives. Only the chair, Lynne Nicol, is named. But as she is head of Openness, was she informed that other members were being hidden? Job titles are given - so why refuse names? Others with different views could fill titles in future. FOISA Guidance states on this: "This requires the authority to demonstrate what substantial prejudice (or substantial inhibition) would be caused by disclosure and how likely that is to occur." Can you please give answers to this guidance point? There is no substantial prejudice or inhibition to be caused by name openness, no affect on ministers or any likelihood of this. But the opposite case, favouring transparency, is substantial.

This has been addressed as part of the FOI Review 202300354062

Only the chair, Lynne Nicol, is named. But as she is head of Openness, was she informed that other members were being hidden?

Lynne Nicol was aware of the FOISA exemptions that had been applied.

QUESTION THREE: Is Dr Dunbar also a patient with lived experience as a sufferer?

The Scottish Government does not hold this special category personal data for Dr Martin Dunbar.

QUESTION FOUR: On what grounds was Dr Dunbar selected as a patient representative? But while he is named to me at my request, will he be named online for transparency to patients?

To increase representation of the needs of people with lived experience a member of the third-sector community would be identified to join the Task Force. Dr Dunbar is the lived experience representative on the Pain Management Task Force. The process of Dr Dunbar’s selection has already been outlined to you in the letter you received from Linda Pollock on 5 April.

Yes, the minutes from the Pain Management Task Force will be published on the Scottish Government website in the coming weeks.

QUESTION FIVE: Does the fairly high proportion of senior officials not count towards transparency? It does under FOISA guidance. The “Pain Management Task Force” replaced the National Advisory Committee on Chronic Pain, which always named members. So did predecessor similar committees dating back to 2009. The NACCP and predecessors also produced minutes quarterly.

This has been addressed as part of the FOI Review 202300354062

QUESTION SIX: Why does this new body have even less transparency? How was that decided? Are there Minutes for the Task Force and are they publicly available?

The minutes from the Pain Management Task Force will be published on the Scottish Government website in the coming weeks.

QUESTION SEVEN: SHOULD CLINICAL PRIORITIES BE INVOLVED WITH FOI? Decisions on what an FOI questioner is sent are now allowed to be made by officials working for the Units/depts being questioned under FOISA. There is growing concern over thi inhouse set up which seems contradictory to FOISA’s original intentions. In this case, several members of the Clinical Priorities Unit are on the Task Force and name removal has been used by the Unit while operating for Freedom of Information.

It is standard procedure that a FOI Case Handler in a policy area, such as Clinical Priorities, is responsible for responding to FOI requests related to their subject area.

QUESTIONS EIGHT: Is that allowable? Is it not a further conflict of interest to let members of the same Unit decide to conceal the names of other members?

Are some of the CP Unit involved with FOISA also. among the four plus names not disclosed on the Task Force?

I refer the correspondent to question 7.


QUESTION NINE: This Unit should surely not be making decisions on an FOISA case in which its own personnel are Involved throughout, including commissioning the “patient panel” and Report?

I refer the correspondent to question 7

QUESTION TEN: What is the ruling on that? Groups with a known interest in chronic pain ceased to be informed over a year ago by the SG’s Clinical Priorities Unit on what was happening to their policy subject, chronic pain, and the voluntary secretary was not sent reports and material to circulate to the members’ list. FOI is our recourse – to find that also under Clinical Priorities is very different from a dedicated FOI official outwith a Unit making decisions. NETWORK SECRECY. The information on the “network” group states: “Officials met with national third sector organisations previously involved with the National Advisory Committee for Chronic Pain before they became part of the Third Sector Network”

I refer the correspondent to question 7.

QUESTION ELEVEN: The Cross Party Group is Third Sector and ten CPG volunteer patients were on the NACCP. Why was not even one patient representative from the Scottish Parliament’s CPG invited to a meeting while other Third Sector bodies were included? The CPG has 22 years of experience and many hundreds of members all over Scotland from Orkney & Shetland to the Borders. This is another happening which leads patients to believe they are discriminated against because they are independent advocates for patients and question policy.

As per the Scottish Parliament website, Cross-party groups are groups of MSPs and other people who are interested in a subject or issue.

A cross-party group is not a third sector organisation.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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