Thursday, May 05, 2011

The media and FOI - report of roundtable discussion held in Scotland

The report of a roundtable discussion on FOI and the media hosted by the Scottish Information Commissioner and Holyrood Magazine has been published.
Holyrood magazine and the Scottish Information Commissioner recently hosted a roundtable event where professionals from the media, local government, tade unions and the legal sector discussed how the legislation has worked out since it was implemented in January 2005 and how it impacts different perspectives.

The Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, was joined by a number of journalists, lawyers, FoI staff and campaigners to debate the relationship between the legislation and the media.

The meeting was held just a month after the previous Scottish Government said it was not appropriate to extend FoI laws to organisations such as contractors who build and maintain hospitals, housing associations and private prisons.

A series of other proposals have been mooted, however, and it is expected that changes will be made to the legislation.

In Scotland the role of FoI has come under the spotlight again in recent weeks. The SNP announced that it has now shelved plans to replace the council tax with a local income tax in the next Parliament. But the SNP Government came under fire after it emerged Alex Salmond has twice gone to the Court of Session to prevent the disclosure of a memo detailing the financial implications of local income tax becoming public.

The Government is contesting a decision by Dunion, who believes the tax plans are in the public interest and should be released, on the grounds that the memo constitutes "advice to ministers" which is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Full report here.

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