Deputy FM's office to be investigated by Information Commissioner.


In a letter to Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott, the Information Commissioner has confirmed that he will be investigating the Deputy First Minister's office over its handling of freedom of information requests.

The Commissioner, Daren Fitzhenry, confirmed that a case highlighted by Mr Scott will be among those that he will examine as part of a wider probe into the Scottish Government's practices.

Mr Scott wrote to the Information Commissioner last week to ask it to investigate allegations that special advisers have been interfering in the content of Scottish Government freedom of information responses and whether Cabinet Secretary John Swinney and his special adviser Colin McAllister wrongly withheld information.

Ministers previously told Mr Scott and Parliament that special advisors only assess responses for accuracy but investigations by journalist James McEnaney have now uncovered evidence of special advisors interfering in the content of replies.

Mr Scott said:

“The Information Commissioner is quite right to investigate these serious allegations.

"The documents reluctantly released by the Scottish Government suggested that special advisors were interfering in the content of replies to freedom of information requests in the very same week that ministers told me and Parliament they weren't.

"What ministers would 'prefer' isn't relevant when it comes to freedom of information. It is a matter of the law and the public’s right to information which is clearly defined in legislation.

"We need to see a thorough investigation of the Scottish Government's approach to information governance."


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