Former First Minister trip to London March 2023: FOI release

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

Information requested

1) Under FOI could I please request all correspondence related to Nicola Sturgeon's travel arrangements for her trip to London on March 19-20, 2023. This should include, for example, any discussion around whether to book economy or business class flights and what sort of hotel she would stay in.

2) Could you please also tell me which hotel Ms Sturgeon stayed in, which staff members accompanied her, and their travel/accommodation costs.

3) Please also provide details of all other expenses incurred by Ms Sturgeon and Scottish Government staff/special advisors during this trip, such as meals etc, which were reimbursed by the Scottish Government. If there are itemised receipts held for the Scottish Government, please provide these. If costs were reimbursed but subsequently repaid, please still provide details of the initial claims/payments.


1) The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because the First Minister’s private office only hold correspondence for 3 months. It may be helpful to explain that Ministerial Mailboxes are primarily transactional – managing incoming and outgoing emails. The number of items and size (in GBs) of Ministerial mailboxes are monitored, and retaining emails for a maximum of three months is a key part of ensuring mailbox size remains below the level where the number of items and size of box starts to impact on mailbox functionality. Any emails and documents which form part of the official record are filed in the Scottish Government electronic Records Management System (eRDM).

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

2) An exemption under section 39(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This is because disclosure would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health or safety of an individual.

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 some public interest in the First Minister’s travel. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in the safety of the First Minister.

The Former First Minister was accompanied by a Private Secretary and a Special Advisor. Their costs were £1230.03 and £450.18 respectively.

3) No additional expenses were incurred.

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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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