Concerns over potential FOI inquiry to feature in ‘Right to Know Day’ meeting

A second meeting of the newly revived Scottish Public Information Forum (SPIF) takes place in Glasgow on International Right to Know Day (28 September) and will discuss concerns about the way Scotland’s political leaders are likely to interpret calls for inquiries and reviews of the FOI regime.

The SPIF, revived by the Campaign for information in Scotland (CFoIS) is joining forces with the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) to host this event, aiming to raise awareness amongst community organisations, services and individuals of their ¨Right to Know”.

Some of Scotland’s top FOI experts will speak. Acting Scottish Information Commissioner, Margaret Keyse will introduce the Commissioners Annual Report and CFoIS Convener, Carole Ewart will release a report on the Campaign’s work highlighting the need for a review of the Scottish FOI operation.

Central to the agenda will be concerns about how the inquiry and review of the Freedom Of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) and the role of the Scottish Government will be carried out. An inquiry into the way the Scottish Government’s responded to requests, and a review of the operation of the Act was called for unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in June.

Carole Ewart said: “There is increasing concern that this inquiry will be foisted onto the Information Commissioner. This would be an evasion of the Government’s commitment and will draw precious resources away from the Commissioner’s statutory functions. It also bypasses the Scottish Parliament’s scrutiny function, which exists to review the operation of legislation, especially when additions to it have been continually promised and not delivered. The clear intention was for an independent inquiry to be set up.”

Helen Macneil, CEO at GCVS said: “Itʼs hugely important that groups, services and organisations understand their rights under Freedom of Information and how this can be used to help them achieve their goals and hold public agencies to account. As Scotland looks to review Freedom of Information processes and policies, we want to ensure our members and the citizens of Glasgow can fully engage in the process, as FOI benefits everyone.”

Other items for discussion at the meeting will be – designation of new bodies under FOISA, access to information and human rights, and best practice.

Note for Editors: The Scottish Public Information Forum exists to ensure the efficiency of FOISA and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations. It is a unique body that combines practitioners and users with regulators and government. Although its role is incorporated in the Scottish Government’s Six FoI principles published in 2007, SPIF had not met for seven years until this May.

Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector is a membership organisation for non-profit organisations in Glasgow, many of whom work to improve the lives and opportunities of people and communities who experience inequality.

The SPIF event is free to attend and takes place at GCVS Albany Learning & Conference Centre, 44 Ashley Street, Glasgow from 2pm. If you’d like to attend call 0141 332 2444 or book a place here

For further information, contact: Carole Ewart or Chris Bartter 07715 583 729.

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