Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf (Image: Getty)
Humza Yousaf has been accused of continuing Nicola Sturgeon’s “addiction to cover-up and secrecy” after it was revealed the Scottish Government had responded to just one-third of FOI requests in full and on time.
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross also described the revelation as “scandalous” – with Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie sharing her frustration at what she called a “culture of secrecy” perpetuated by the SNP.
An investigation by Scottish Labour revealed that in 2023, the Scottish Government received 4,459 Freedom Of Information requests.
However, only 1,434 of these received a full response within the legal timescales – meaning more than 68 per cent of FOIs were either late, refused or redacted.
Mr Ross told Express.co.uk: “Successive SNP First Ministers have fronted-up a government that is addicted to cover-up and secrecy and all too keen to avoid scrutiny. Sadly for the Scottish people, Humza Yousaf has continued that culture.
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross (Image: Getty)
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Mr Ross continued: “The SNP’s record in responding to FOI responses from journalists and the public is nothing short of scandalous but is sadly what we have come to expect from the nationalists.
“From their shameful deletion of messages during the pandemic, to evading key questions on their ferry fiasco, their disdain for FOI requests has been repeatedly exposed.
“Scots deserve better than the SNP who want to keep them in the dark in relation to crucial – and reckless – decisions they have taken.”
Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie (Image: Getty)
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The SNP government’s handling of FOI requests during the Covid pandemic has been roundly criticised in recent weeks, prompting a Level 3 intervention from the Scottish Information Commissioner, who declared that the evidence supplied to the ongoing COVID-19 Inquiry “raises significant practice concerns”.
Ms Baillie said: “Once again the SNP is treating the public with contempt and attempting to stifle scrutiny.
“Time and time again we see the SNP’s disregard for transparency on display, from their woeful record on FOIs to the shameful destruction of evidence during the Covid pandemic.
“Scotland deserves better than the rotten culture of secrecy and cover-up this SNP government has created.
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“Scottish Labour will strengthen FOI laws and clean up Holyrood by bolstering government accountability and oversight.”
Labour asked the Scottish Government how many requests for information made under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2003 (FOISA) it had received between January 1 and December 31 2023, and of these, how many received a full response within the 20 working day limit as set out in the legislation.
Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam told Express.co.uk: “The Scottish Government is currently responding to 97 percent of FOI requests within the statutory deadline, despite an increase of 66 percent in requests since 2019, to over 5,000 requests in 2023.
“Inevitably, it is sometimes necessary for organisations’ responses to apply the exemptions – as Parliament agreed when passing the legislation, for example to withhold personal data such as names.
“Scotland has the most open and far-reaching Freedom of Information legislation in the UK and the Scottish Government remains committed to our obligations under the Act to ensure openness and transparency.”
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