Correspondence regarding Professor Andrew Cumbers: FOI Release

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

Information requested

With respect to contact between Professor Andrew Cumbers , 1st May 2021 - date, please provide:

(1) The dates of all meetings held, in person or virtual.

(2) Any documentation relating to the meetings, including agendas, presentation materials, minutes,notes, or briefings.

(3) All correspondence between the Constitutional Futures Division and Professor Andrew Cumbers, 1st May 2021 - date.


1. A meeting was held on 27 January 2022.

2. Following a search of our records, I can confirm that no information is held. This is a formal notice under Section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.

3. Some of the information you have requested is included in Annex A. Exemptions under S.30(b)(ii) and S.38(1)(b) apply to some of the information you have requested. The reason why these exemptions apply is explained in Annex B.

In addition, some of the information you have requested is publicly available. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed within Annex A, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Annex B
S.38(1)(b) (Personal Information)

We are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (Personal Information) of FOISA applies to that information. This is because it is personal data of a third party, specifically the personal details of individuals below Senior Civil Service grade, 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. S30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views)

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 Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public. This would significantly harm the Scottish Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence needed to make fully informed policies/decisions. 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 Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective.

This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual’s contribution was released against their wishes.

About FOI

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Annex A


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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