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Government FOI forum recalled by Campaign

A Forum set up by the Scottish Government, but which hasn’t met for over six years is to be reconvened in Edinburgh this Friday by the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) it was announced today. The recall meeting is supported by UNISONScotland, and features contributions from the Acting Scottish Information Commissioner, Margaret Keyse, and Alison Mackinnon, Information manager from SEPA who will discuss experiences of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FoISA)

Carole Ewart, Convener of CFoIS said“The CFoIS wants to recall the SPIF to discuss threats and developments to Scotland’s FOI landscape. We’ve managed to recreate the unique character of the SPIF, bringing together regulators, providers and requesters and acting as a sounding board, sharing experiences, good practice and discussing progress.”

The Scottish Public Information Forum (SPIF), which has gone through several incarnations since originally formed to discuss the implementation of FoISA, was meant to ‘enable the long-term effectiveness of FoISA and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. It’s papers are still listed on the Scottish Government website, although the home page for the forum has been deleted. Intended to continue as a ‘virtual’ forum’, it is still listed in the Scottish Government’s Six FoI Principles. It last met in 2010.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Head of Policy and Public Affairs said: “As a major user of FoI to ensure we have the information we need to defend services and the members who provide them, and as a union representing many of the workers who provide that information, means we are uniquely qualified to speak up about our concerns. Public services are increasingly being run by the private sector, voluntary bodies and arms-length companies most of whom are not covered by the Act.”

The Forum will also discuss the increasing focus on proactive publication of information – does this pose an advance or a threat to information rights? European Court of Human Rights decisions may also impact on people’s right to information, and recent cases will be discussed.

Further information:

Registration for the SPIF meeting on Friday 12th May is free, via Eventbrite. The agenda and further organisational details are listed there too.

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