Saturday, 17 November 2012

Release of communications between Scottish Government and Libyan Government "not in public interest"

[I am grateful to Mark Hirst for allowing me to post the following response from the Scottish Government to a Freedom of Information request made by him:]

Our ref: FOI/12101533               
16 November 2012

Dear Mr Hirst 

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for information contained within communications between the Scottish Government and the Libyan and US Governments between 1 May 2011 and 16 October 2012 on the subject of the Lockerbie bombing and Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi. 

We do endeavour to provide information whenever possible. However, in this instance an  exemption under section 32(1)(a) of FOISA applies to the information requested. Section 32(l)(a) provides that information is exempt from FOISA if its release would prejudice substantially or would be likely to prejudice substantially relations between the UK and any other state.

As the exemption is conditional we have applied the ‘public interest test’. This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, 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. While we recognise  that there is some public interest in release because of the high degree of public interest in matters relating to the Lockerbie bombing and Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that communications made in confidence between the Scottish Government and other States will remain private, as failure to do so may make States reluctant to share information with the Scottish or UK Governments in future. 

The information in question concerns communications with the Libyan National Transitional  Council. We hold no records of communications between the Scottish Government and the US Government on matters related to the Lockerbie bombing or Mr Al-Megrahi between the relevant dates. 

2 comments:

Vronsky said...

Egregious but fascinating.

Paraphrased: we understand that any healthy person would be disgusted by what we do, so we can't possibly admit we do it.

SM said...

Good they gave such an answer. Had they said "Yes, OK" I would have fallen off my chair, and might have hurt myself.