Thursday, September 10, 2009

SIC orders release of PFI prison contract financial model

BBC News
10 September 2009
Scotland's Information Commissioner has ordered the release of key financial data from a £50m PFI contract for Kilmarnock jail.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the private jail's operator had resisted giving the information to the union Unison.

They argued it would substantially prejudice the contractor's commercial interests.

Unison said it was "a major victory for the public's right to know".

The prison is operated by Serco on behalf of the Scottish Prison Service.

The SPS said it was "currently considering its response".

Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion said the significance of the financial model data had diminished substantially since the 25-year contract was signed in November 1997.

Unison's Scottish organiser Dave Watson said the union had long argued there was too much secrecy around PFI and Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts.

"Too often the public is denied information about the costs of hospital, school and prison contracts on the grounds of commercial prejudice or commercial confidentiality," he said.

"This decision is extremely important and should help pave the way for greater access to information about all PFI/PPP contracts."

SIC Decision 104/2009 UNISON Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service here.

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