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COPFS

Gifts and Hospitality (R015023)


 Thank you for your e-mail of 19 December 2016 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA): 

“1.     Details of any rules or other obligations requiring staff at the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, including the Lord Advocate, to declare gifts and hospitality, including the official name of any such record (eg “hospitality register”) and the date from which such rules have been in force.

2.       Detail as of any rules applicable specifically to the office of the Lord Advocate and any written guidance or similar on accepting gifts and hospitality.

3.       Details of the approval process for any gifts or hospitality, including whether approval is required to be obtained in advance, and the identities and positions of those authorised to give such approval.

4.       All entries recorded in the hospitality register (or any similar document or record) in the name of the former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland between his appointment in May 2011 and June 2016. Such information should include, the donor, specific nature, purpose and economic value of the hospitality. Please also specify whether approval was given before or after the event and by whom.

5.       Any information you have related to the Lord Advocate’s attendance at Celtic Park between May 2011 and June 2016 as a guest in a directors’ box or similar non-standard seating, or away games featuring Celtic Football Club, to include the full value of the hospitality and the identity of the person/s providing the facility. This should include occasions when the Lord Advocate and/or guests paid for their own tickets but were provided with upgraded seating, food, drink, entertainment or transportation.

6.       Details of any expense claims by the Lord Advocate between May 2011 and June 2016 paid out of public funds related to attendance at football matches, including tickets, subsistence entertainment, accommodation and transportation.

7.       Any information related to formal or informal meetings attended by the Lord Advocate with players, management or directors of Celtic Football Club, to include the nature, location, purpose and outcome of such meetings

8.       Any photographs or video tape in your possession recording the Lord Advocate’s visits to Celtic Park or meetings with Celtic Football Club directors, managers or players.

9.       An estimate of the total value of the hospitality provided to the Lord Advocate, his advisors, staff friends and/or family by Celtic Football Club, its partners or associates between May 2011 and June 2016.

10.     Any information relevant to the above request that is available in other formats, documents, press releases, expenses claims and external and internal communications or official files other that those already specified.

11.     Any information relating to the reimbursement to any third party of the value or part value of any gift or hospitality enjoyed by the Lord Advocate between May 2011 and June 2016, to include the source of those funds.

I would like the above information including photographs to be provided to me in electronic format via email, where possible. “  

I must firstly clarify that the Lord Advocate is a Minister of the Scottish Government and as a Minister of the Scottish Government the Lord Advocate is bound by the Scottish Ministerial Code which includes reference to gifts and hospitality. 

The Scottish Ministerial Code is accessible on the Scottish Government website at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00511366.pdf and guidance on the acceptance of gifts and hospitality by a Scottish Minister is available on page 38 at section 11:19 – 11:24 of this document.  

In relation to the individual points of your request I can advise as follows:

1. COPFS staff are bound by COPFS standards and conduct in relation to a variety of matters including the receipt of gifts and hospitality.  This document is dated August 2011 and is accessible on our website at http://www.crownoffice.gov.uk/images/Documents/HumanResources/COPFS%20Standards%20and%20Conduct.pdfGifts and hospitality is covered at page 30. 

In terms of Government Accounting requirements, COPFS is required to maintain a register containing details of gifts received by the Service, their estimated value and what happened to them, you will note from the “standards and conduct” document that this is known as the register of gifts.  There is also a separate register of hospitality.

Details of gifts and hospitality involving the Lord Advocate are not recorded in the registers held by COPFS.   You will note from the Scottish Ministerial Code that gifts and hospitality valued below £140 are at the discretion of the Minister and are not required to be recorded but those above the value of £140 should be recorded by the Lord Advocate’s Private Office and this information provided to the Scottish Government so that it may be included on the “list of gifts received by Scottish Ministers valued higher than £140” which is published quarterly by the Scottish Government.  

You can view the lists on the Scottish Government website from 2011 to August 2016 using the links I have provided below.  I must highlight that they do not feature the Lord Advocate as Private Office have advised that they do not hold any recorded information in relation to gifts and hospitality above £140 in terms of Section 17 of FOISA. I understand that lists for the period September to November 2016 will shortly be published on the Scottish Government web-site.

2. Details of rules applicable specifically to Government Ministers can be viewed in the Scottish Ministerial Code using the link I have provided above.

3. Details of the approval process for COPFS staff are included in the standards and conduct document for which I have provided a link above

As explained above, information relating to the Lord Advocate is not recorded in the register relating to COPFS staff. In order to respond to your requests from this point onwards I have consulted with the Lord Advocate’s Private Office. 

4. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that they do not have recorded information regarding the Lord Advocate’s hospitality during the period specified in your request in terms of Section 17 of FOISA, and as a result the Lord Advocate does not feature on the lists published by the Scottish Government for which I have provided links below.

5. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that the Lord Advocate represented the Scottish Government when he attended at Celtic Park on 18 November 2014 for a Scotland v England International match, but that details of the value of any hospitality are not recorded, as it was below the £140 threshold referred to in the Scottish Ministerial Code and therefore the information you have requested is not held in terms of Section 17 of FOISA.

6. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that no expenses claims described in your request were made by the Lord Advocate.

7. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that the Lord Advocate did not attend any meetings as described in your request.

8. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that, as indicated above, the Lord Advocate did not attend any meetings as described in your request and therefore no photographs or video are held in terms of Section 17 of FOISA.

9. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that no information on hospitality of this nature is recorded and is therefore not held in terms of Section 17 of FOISA.

10. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that there is no other information relevant to the above request recorded and is therefore not held in terms of Section 17 of FOISA.

11. The Lord Advocate’s Private Office has advised that no information is recorded in relation to this aspect of your request and is therefore not held in terms of Section 17 of FOISA.

Lists of gifts received by Scottish Ministers valued higher than £140

January 2011 to March 2012

www.gov.scot/Resource/0039/00393025.pdf

April 2012 to March 2013

www.gov.scot/Resource/0042/00428680.pdf

April 2013 to March 2014

www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00462650.pdf

April 2014 to March 2015

www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00481924.pdf

April 2015 to December 2015

www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00492305.pdf 

Jan 2016 to May 2016 

http://www.gov.scot/About/People/14944/Events-Engagements/gifts

May 2016 – August 2016 

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/?term=Ministerial&publicationTypes=transparency_data