Thank you for your email of 30 April 2016 in which you requested the following informationunder the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2001 (FOISA).
1. The names of the people in attendance at any and all meetings, the date and the location of such meetings, the subjects discussed and all related correspondence including emails, file notes and letters issued before and after said meetings, in respect of any such meetings which have taken place since 1 May 2014 between staff of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service and the individuals or representative of the organisations below.
· Hon consul for Israel in Scotland
· Israel Information Office Scotland
· Scottish Friends of Israel
· Board of Deputes of British jews
· Community Securtiy Trust
· Scottish Council of Jewish communities
· Glasgow Friends of Israel
· The Israeli consul/Ambassador to the UK (Israeli Embassy)
· Representative of the Israeli Government
· Confederation of Friends of israle Scotland
· Stand with Us
· Centre for Scotland Israel Relations
· Glasgow Jewish Representative Council
· JNF KKL Scotland (Lted) also known as the Jewish National Fund
The second part of your FOI request requests:
Copies of all correspondence since 1 May 2014 between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service and the individuals of representatives of the following organisations:
(You then list the organisations as per the first part of your request with the exception of the Board of Deputies of British Jews)
I can confirm that we hold a quantity of e-mail correspondence relating to meetings held with some of the respective organisations noted above and also a quantity of e-mails that can be described as general correspondence.
There are number of e-mails that are exempt under section 38 of the FOI (S) Act 2002 as the e-mail contains personal data of witnesses and, as such, disclosure would contravene the data protection principles. This is an absolute exemption.
There are also small quantities of e-mails that are exempt in terms of section 30 of the FOI(S) Act 2002 which provides that information is exempt if disclosure would be likely to cause substantial harm to the free and frank provision of advice.
I consider that section 30 of FOISA applies to this material, namely it is not in the public
interest to disclose such information as it would inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views. I have considered what effect disclosure would have on the provision of advice or the exchange of views including whether it would be more likely that persons offering advice would be unwilling to do so in the future and whether it would it make it more likely that advice given in the future would be materially different because of the possibility of disclosure. Given the often confidential and sensitive nature of communication between Procurators Fiscal and senior officials within Crown Office we have taken the view that it is not in the public interest to disclose this information. If the Law Officers or senior officials are to take decisions on the basis of the best available advice, they need to be confident that advice is given without reserve.
In relation to the first part of your request I have prepared a table (Annex A.pdf) of the relevant meetings. To comply with our Data Protection Act 1998 obligations it has been necessary to delete the names of individuals concerned. You will see that the date, location, representatives of which organisations and the general purpose of each meeting has been provided.
I have also provided an additional table at (Annex B.pdf) to this letter which contains a list of emails relevant to the meetings in ANNEX A. Redacted copies of these e-mails have been provided. The e-mails have been redacted to ensure that we comply with our obligations under the Data Protection Act.
In relation to the second part of your request, I have provided a table at Annex C (Annex C Part 1.pdf / Annex C Part 2.pdf / Annex C Part 3.pdf) to this letter which contains a list of e-mail correspondence that falls under the category of general correspondence which is not caught by any of the exemptions outlined above or by the first part of your request. Redacted copies of these e-mails have been provided. The e-mails have been redacted to ensure that we comply with our obligations under the Data Protection Act.
You also wrote on 2 June seeking a review due to the fact that COPFS had failed to
respond within the statutory 20 day period as set out in FOISA. I am sorry that we were unable to respond within the timescales on this occasion. This was due to the significant amount of material which we had to consider for release and then redact to remove personal data.
The review will be undertaken by staff not involved in the original decision making process.
If our decision is unchanged following a review and you remain dissatisfied with this, please note that although generally under section 47(1) of FOISA there is a right of appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner, where the information requested is held by the Lord Advocate as head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths in Scotland, under section 48(c) no application can be made as respects a request for review made to the Lord Advocate. The information you have requested appears to fall into that category, although ultimately it would be for the Commissioner to decide whether that was the case should you refer the matter to her.
In circumstances where section 48(c) does not apply and the Commissioner accepts an appeal, should you subsequently wish to appeal against that decision, there is a right of appeal to the Court of Session on a point of law only.
I hope that the information provided is helpful to you.