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Correspondence between COPFS and Organisation listed since 1 January 2014 – 20 December 2016 – (R015030)

Thank you for your email of 20 December 2016 where you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

Details of all and any meetings which have taken place since 1 January 2014 to 20 December 2016 between staff of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service and representatives of the organisations below. Copies of all correspondence since 1 January 2014 to 20 December 2016 between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service and representatives of the following organisations.

All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

Centre for Scotland Israel Relations

Community Security Trust

Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland and any of their affiliated organisations (including Glasgow Friends of Israel, Aberdeen Friends of Israel and Edinburgh Friends of Israel)

Glasgow Jewish Representative Council

Government of Israel

Hon Consul for Israel in Scotland             

Israel Information Office Scotland

Jewish Human Rights Watch

JNF KKL Scotland (Ltd) also known as the Jewish National Fund

Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation

Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

Scottish Friends of Israel

Stand With Us

The Board of Deputies of British Jews

The Israeli Consul to the UK and the Israeli Embassy

Zionist Federation UK

The second part of your FOI Request

I request that the information includes the names of the people in attendance at the meetings, the date and the location of the meetings, the subjects discussed and all related correspondence including emails, file notes and letters issued before and after the meetings.

I am sorry for the delay in responding to your request. This was due to the significant amount of material which had to be considered.

I can confirm that we hold a number of e-mail correspondence relating to meetings held with two of the respective organisation namely Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) and Glasgow Jewish Representative Council from your list above and also a number of e-mails that can be described as general correspondence.

A similar question has been raised previously and I would direct you to our FOI section on our website where we have proactively published FOI responses. You will find FOI Response R012991 provides a list of all the information which falls within the terms of your request between the period of 1 May 2014 and 30 April 2016.

In these circumstances, my response will only consider the additional information which we hold between the dates of 1 January -30 April 2014 and 1 May 2016 - 20 December 2016.

I have broken the information down into three categories, set out in Annexes A, B and C.

1 January – 30 April 2014 and 1 May – 20 December 2016

In relation to your first request on the dates above, I have prepared a table (Annex A.pdf) of the relevant meetings. Names of individuals have been redacted under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA as such disclosure would contravene the data protection principles. This is an absolute exemption. 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. These emails have also been redacted in terms of Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA to ensure that we comply with our obligations under the Data Protection Act. I have also applied an exemption under section 30(b)(i) and (ii) as the provision of the material requested would be likely to, inhibit substantially

(i) the free and frank provision of advice; or

(ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberations

as the information relates to the development of prosecution policy in relation to the COPFS Social Media Policy

As the exemption is conditional we have applied the ‘public interest test’.  This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.  We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.  This is because we require to have free and frank discussion with others including stakeholders in relation to prosecution policy. This would be inhibited if it was considered that the information would be put in the public domain.

In relation to the second part of your request, I have provided a table at (Annex C.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. These emails have also been redacted in terms of Section 38(1)(b) to ensure that we comply with our obligations under the Data Protection Act.

The exemption under section 34(1)(a)(i) has also been applied where the information contained in email exchanges is exempt information held by COPFS for the purpose of investigation and prosecution of offences. This relates to a case where proceedings are still live. This is not an absolute exemption and I have therefore considered whether the public interest favours disclosure of the information, notwithstanding the exemption. I consider that there is a strong public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of information concerning allegations of criminality. The Courts have traditionally placed great emphasis on assertions on confidentiality in relation to such information. In addition, witnesses have a legitimate expectation that information will be used for such purposes and will not be further processed unnecessarily. The release of information in relation to ongoing prosecution would seriously undermine the confidence which witnesses and, consequently the public, would have in the criminal justice system.

pdfAnnex A Table of Meetings R015030 116.26 KB

pdfAnnex B Table of Meetings Correspondence R015030 60.36 KB

pdfAnnex B all documents_Redacted1.66 MB

pdfAnnex C Table of Correspondence53.59 KB

pdfAnnex C all Documents_Redacted4.39 MB