Ministerial Roundtable on Spiking: FOI release

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

Information requested

  1. The dates of all the meetings of the ministerial roundtable on spiking.
  2. Who attended these meetings.
  3. The agenda, minutes and any supporting papers discussed at the meeting.
  4. Please can you also provide any ministerial briefings on spiking for the last three years.
  5. Please can you provide the internal correspondence that led to the decision being taken to postpone the planned October spiking roundtable.


Most of the information you have requested is available from a previous FOI request Engagement discussing Spiking: FOI release - ( As you may be aware, 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(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) and section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA applies to that information. The minutes, papers, Ministerial briefings and internal correspondence are of an operational and sensitive nature and are not designed for consumption outwith the group. Further explanation as to why these exemptions have been applied can be found below.

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested which can be found within Annex A. This is in relation to the most recent Ministerial Roundtable on Spiking which took place on 29 June 2023. I also enclose a copy of the written update to members advising the reason for postponement of the planned October 2023 Roundtable which can be found within Annex B.


Exemptions under Section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA apply to some of  the information you have requested. This exemption applies to the request for minutes, papers,  Ministerial briefings and internal correspondence because disclosure would, or would be likely to,  inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need  for partners and officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to  Ministers and other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

This exemption is also subject to the ‘public interest test’. 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 a private space  within which partners and officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and other  officials as part of the Government policy process.

This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on  the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Disclosure is likely to  undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, officials and partners, on a  sensitive area of policy.

Exemption under Section 38 (personal information) of FOISA contains four exemptions, all relating  to personal information. Information is exempt from disclosure if it is:

  • the personal data of the person requesting the information (section 38(1)(a));
  • the personal data of a third party – but only if other conditions apply (section 38(1)(b)); 
  • personal census information (section 38(1)(c));
  • or a deceased person's health record (section 38(1)(d)).

The exemptions in sections 38(1)(a) and (b) regulate the relationship between FOISA, the UK General  Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Processing of personal data must be  fair as well as lawful, so fairness needs to be considered separately. Guidance issued by the ICO  in relation to the UK GDPR states that fairness means public authorities should only handle  personal data in ways that people would reasonably expect and not use it in ways that have  unjustified adverse effects on them.

Public authorities should therefore take the following into account:

  • Whether the individual expects their role to be subject to public scrutiny. Consideration should be  given to the person’s seniority, whether they have a public profile and whether their role requires  a significant level of personal judgement and individual responsibility.
  • Whether any distress or damage would be caused to the data subject as a result of the disclosure;
  • Any express refusal by the data subject;
  • Whether the information relates to the data subject’s public or private life. A person’s private  life is likely to deserve more protection.

The majority of roundtable members represent organisations. Therefore, to protect those individuals  from unexpected public scrutiny and potential distress or damage caused by disclosure, it is considered that the exemption, detailed above, is applicable in these circumstances.

About FOI

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

FOI 202300384168 - Information released - ANNEX A
FOI 202300384168 - Information Released - ANNEX B


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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