Scottish Governments Gold Command meetings minutes which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic: FOI release

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

Information requested

The Scottish Government’s Gold Command meetings minutes which took place during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Our aim is to provide information whenever possible, and in this case, when considering the application of the public interest test, we have considered that it is in the public interest to disclose most of the information you have requested. This information is provided at Annex B of the letter.

We have applied a limited number of exemptions under Section 26(a) (prohibitions on disclosure), Section 30(c) (effective conduct of public affairs), Section 36(1) (legal advice) and Section 38(1)(b) (personal information) to the information you have requested. The reasons why these exemptions apply are set out in Annex A to this letter.

Explanatory notes for information released at Annex B

In responding to your request we have used the following definition of a ‘Gold Command’ meeting to provide more information than if we had used the narrower wording of ‘Gold Command’ in your request:

  • any meeting relating to the pandemic that was described at the time as either a ‘Gold’ or ‘Gold Command’ meeting (or any other title incorporating the term ‘Gold’) by those organising the meeting, or by Ministers.

We have also used the following definition of a meeting ‘minute’ in order to provide you with more information than would be the case if a narrower, and more formal, definition of a minute were used:

  • any note recording the outcomes, discussion points or actions of the meeting which has been shared as such a record.

In case it is useful in interpreting the information set out in Annex B, ‘Gold’ or ‘Gold Command’ was an informal label occasionally given to meetings of senior Ministers, officials or advisers in the Scottish Government over the course of the pandemic. Typically – during the emergency phase of the pandemic – the term was applied to meetings arranged to enable the First Minister and other senior Ministers to give a steer on the proposals and options to include in a forthcoming Cabinet paper.

Reflecting its informal use, there was not a formally constituted membership of ‘Gold’ or ‘Gold Command’ meetings. The presence of the then First Minister (or Deputy First Minister) to lead the meeting was essential. Otherwise, attendance varied according to the issues being discussed and to people’s availability – bearing in mind that these meetings could be called at short notice, on weekends and in the evenings.

These ‘Gold’ meetings tended to be discursive and did not make decisions about Covid-19 response measures, with Ministers using them to consider information about the pandemic and (in most cases) to help shape the proposals that would then be considered and decided upon by Cabinet in a forthcoming Cabinet meeting. This point was stated by the previous First Minister in her oral evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry: “I should be very clear that the gold group, gold command, whatever terminology we want to use, was not a decision-making or a formal governance body.”

The previous First Minister also informed the Inquiry that no formal minutes were taken of meetings of this kind, reflecting that they were not decision-making meetings in the way Cabinet meetings were. She stated at the Module 2A oral hearings that, “in a sense the output of those meetings, and I use this term loosely, the minutes of those meetings are the Cabinet papers that then go to Cabinet for decision, because that is what comes from these meetings into the Cabinet papers that then inform and shape the decisions Cabinet reaches.” These Cabinet papers and minutes have all been passed to the Covid-19 Inquiries.

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 202400394258 - Information Released - Annex A
FOI 202400394258 - 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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