GFG Alliance and the Scottish Government's advisors: FOI review

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

Information requested

Any correspondence including meeting minutes, memos, notes, emails, agendas, or attachments and correspondence on the topic of, or originating following any meetings held between GFG Alliance and the Scottish Government's advisors, Deloitte and/or Teneo, since May 1, 2022 to date.

I am writing to you to request an internal review of this decision. While I recognise the applicability of some exemptions, I believe they have been applied in a overly-strong manner to areas which are not covered by the exemption. I would also argue that the public interest is demonstrably in favour of disclosure.


I have been asked to look at your request afresh, to decide whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, as appropriate, or that a fresh decision should be substituted. I can confirm that I was not involved in the handling or decision-making around the original response. I have considered this case again, and I have conducted a comprehensive review of the response, and the reasons behind withholding the requested information. I have concluded that the original decision should be upheld with modifications and as such some additional information contained within the documents held in scope has now been released.

I would also like to confirm that section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) does apply to some information contained in the documents provided to you. Disclosing the content of these communications/information about, particularly without the consent of the relevant stakeholders, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. These stakeholders will be reluctant to participate in meetings and provide vital views or information fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and events with legal or commercial ramifications are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken. This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed policies/decisions. I am satisfied that if this information were released it would negatively impact the business and potentially damage negotiations, day-to-day operations and other activity.

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 and meet with appropriate internal and external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position, until the Government as a whole can adopt an approach that is sound and likely to be effective; and the public interest in ensuring that private sector partners can share commercially sensitive information with Government with confidence that such information will be handled with due sensitivity. 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/decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

However, I found several instances where I believe information was wrongly exempt from release. I have released this information to you now in the attached document provided separately.

Regarding the use of section 38(1)(b) - Personal information - this exemption applies to the names and contact details of junior officials and equivalent third party representatives within the documents provided. This exemption is not subject to the public interest test but I can confirm it has been applied correctly.

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 Review - 202300337599 - information released


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top