Civil servants employed in Speech Writing team by Scottish Government: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Please provide details of the number of civil servants employed in the ‘Speech Writing’ team of the Scottish Government, employed to prepare speeches and assistance related to speech-writing for Scottish Ministers.

  • Please include details of Job Titles and Pay Grades in this information.

2. Please provide information on how many 'speechwriters' are employed to prepare speeches for the current First Minister, Humza Yousaf.

3. In July 2023, it was reported that Senior ‘Landecker Fellow’ Laura Westring had been selected as a new speechwriter for Humza Yousaf, the current First Minister of Scotland.

  • Please provide a list of speeches prepared by Ms Westring during the period July 2023 to the present day.
  • Please provide details of the topics, titles and length of each speech prepared.
  • Please also provide details of the dates, occasion and locations for each speech prepared.


In answer to questions 1 and 2.

The Scottish Government currently employs two speechwriters. The First Minister’s Speechwriter (C2 Grade) and an Acting Deputy Speechwriter (C1 Grade).

As part of their duties, speechwriters coordinate input to the First Minister’s speeches from policy colleagues, special advisers and from the First Minister. Other officials also contribute to speeches for the First Minister and other Ministers alongside a wider range of duties.

In answer to question 3.

As the theme and format of each speech is unique, the preparation of First Minster’s speeches are assigned to different configurations of civil servants and advisers, based on the relevance of their expertise.

Therefore, we are unable to provide a list of speeches prepared by any one speechwriter alone, as the speech writing process within Scottish Government requires the input of more than one individual, with the aim of providing the First Minister with a diversity of input and expertise in the preparation of each speech.

Consequently, we do not hold the information you are requesting in the manner you asked for, because speeches are not authored by any one individual, but finalised by groups of colleagues working together.

Collating the information you are requesting would potentially require specialist review of electronic documents and their metadata, and also implies the creation of new information on the work of one individual, which fall under the Section 17(1) exemption. See: FOISA Guidance Section 17(1): Information not held.

You have a right to ask for a review of this decision and, as part of our duties, a Scottish public authority must, so far as it is reasonable to expect it to do so, provide advice and assistance to a person who proposes to make, or has made, a request for information to it.

Therefore, I can advise that you are free to make a new request if the information provided above is helpful to you in further specifying the information you wish to obtain. However, you may wish to note that requests for information related to the preparation of individual speeches for the First Minister are likely to fall under exemptions related to FOISA Guidance Section 30: Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs, as speech preparation forms part of the free and frank advice provided by civil servants to Ministers (Section 30(b)).

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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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