It’s our unhappy obligation to report this to you, readers: our expertise of sending Freedom Of Info requests to the Scottish Authorities is mainly that the extra solutions you get from them, the much less data you find yourself having.
See beneath for a living proof.
(Click on to enlarge.)
As tempting as it’s to merely throw our fingers within the air and quit on even attempting to decode the above labyrinth of waffle, obfuscation, evasion and pin-dancing into English for you, let’s simply attempt to concentrate on the important thing level.
The definition of “a report” utilized by the Scottish Authorities for FOI functions is clearly not one which might be recognised by a standard human being. To most of us it merely means “a incontrovertible fact that we’ve written down or in any other case recorded someplace”.
And until the Scottish Authorities employs somebody whose job is to take a seat round holding sure data of their head with out truly “recording” it anyplace, then it clearly DOES have what any regular human would describe as “a report” of the 29 March 2018 assembly between the First Minister and Geoff Aberdein.
SOMEWHERE it has recorded the truth that that assembly occurred, and presumably the important thing particulars of it, as a result of in any other case John Swinney wouldn’t have been in a position to put it in his directions to James Hamilton QC. He didn’t inform Mr Hamilton to research whether or not the assembly had taken place. He instructed him that it had taken place, as a result of he is aware of it occurred. It’s a truth. It’s recorded.
John Swinney should know what occurred at that assembly and who was there, as a result of in any other case he wouldn’t be capable of transient Mr Hamilton about it in order that Mr Hamilton might do his job – or certainly whether or not it was related to Mr Hamilton’s process in any respect.
The complete goal of FOI is meant to be that if the Deputy First Minister is aware of one thing that’s Scottish Authorities enterprise – and an investigation into doable breaches of the Ministerial Code by the First Minister can’t presumably be something BUT authorities enterprise – then the individuals of Scotland are entitled to understand it too, until there are very particular and really restricted the reason why they will’t. Mr Swinney is the general public’s worker. He’s immediately answerable to them.
That additionally signifies that that is merely not acceptable:
“the reply to your query is that the Scottish Authorities doesn’t maintain recorded data as this was not a authorities assembly“
As a result of if that’s true then the Ministerial Code has DEFINITELY been damaged, and the general public is entitled to find out about it:
Astonishingly, the response makes an attempt to flatly deny that truth:
“Additionally, outwith FOISA, in relation to your assertion that conferences in parliamentary workplaces not on authorities enterprise aren’t permitted, we’re not conscious of such a rule.“
But it surely’s proper there on web page 1, paragraph 1.3(i). The premises of the Scottish Parliament are plainly a “public useful resource” and so should not be used to conduct celebration enterprise. So all of those FOI responses are in reality express statements that the First Minister DID breach the Code, by conducting celebration enterprise on authorities premises.
Which in fact makes her repeated statements at FMQs this week that she HASN’T damaged the Code additionally deliberate lies to Parliament. Which in themselves are additional and much more critical breaches of the Code, which require her to resign.
However past that, the entire saga of our months-long try to easily get the Scottish Authorities to inform us who the First Minister met on 29 March 2018 is a microcosm of all the Alex Salmond affair: an authentic misdeed (the try to smear him simply sufficient to maintain him out of politics) being magnified and amplified to many instances its authentic dimension and quantity by the panicked, ever-spiralling makes an attempt to cowl it up.
And the ethical? When the one software you could have is a shovel, higher not fall right into a gap.