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Disclosure of Information re Criminal Investigations to Former Staff or Legal Representatives

Freedom of Inforamtion:  Disclosure of Information re Criminal Investigations to Former Staff or Legal Representatives

6 August 2013

Thank you for your email of 2 May 2013 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) including the following request: -

• 1) "I would like to make a Freedom of Information request to find out how many times in the past three years the Crown Office has disclosed information or evidence gathered in a criminal investigation to members of senior staff or former members of senior staff or their legal representatives who have requested information or material from COPFS,

• 2) how many requests have been made, (granted or refused), reasons given for the request,

• 3) and what rules or procedures are applied by COPFS to authorising such disclosures of information or evidence gathered in a criminal investigation, and any conditions placed by COPFS on the use of disclosed evidence."

Following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that there is one such instance. The reason given for the request was that the information would assist in consideration of a legal action.

The information was disclosed on Crown Counsel's instructions in accordance with our rules and procedures. The rules and procedures relating to disclosure of information obtained in a criminal investigation or prosecution for the purposes of civil proceedings are contained in the COPFS Book of Regulations. In summary the Book of Regulations provides that precognitions, police reports and statements under caution or compulsion ought not to be disclosed without a court order having been obtained. However, lists of witnesses may be provided to solicitors, insurance companies etc for the purposes of associated legal proceedings. Reports of a factual and non – personal nature, which have been referred to in criminal proceedings or a fatal accident inquiry may also be disclosed to persons with a legitimate interest.

I apologise that this response did not comply with the terms of 20 working day period specified by FOISA. This was due to the time required to carry out a full search of files and to consult with staff members to identify the information that you had requested.