Freedom of Information forum returns after six year absence

Seminar

A forum for campaigners pushing for greater freedom of information is to reconvene in Edinburgh

8th May 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Campaigners for freedom of information in Scotland are reconvening a forum originally set up by the Scottish Government but hasn’t met for over six years.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information Scotland (CFoIS) run Scottish Public Information Forum (SPIF) takes place on Friday, 12 May, and is supported by Unison Scotland.

It will feature contributions from acting Scottish Information Commissioner Margaret Keyse and Alison Mackinnon, information manager from SEPA, who will discuss experiences of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FoISA).

Carole Ewart, convener of CFoIS, said: “The CFoIS wants to recall the SPIF to discuss threats and developments to Scotland’s FOI landscape. We’ve managed to recreate the unique character of the SPIF, bringing together regulators, providers and requesters and acting as a sounding board, sharing experiences, good practice and discussing progress." 

The forum has gone through several incarnations since originally formed to discuss the implementation of the Freedom of Information act. It was established to enable the long-term effectiveness of the act and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Its papers are still listed on the Scottish Government website, although the home page for the forum has been deleted. Intended to continue as a virtual forum, it is still listed in the Scottish Government’s Six FoI Principles, even though it last met in 2010.

Dave Watson, Unison's head of policy and public affairs said: “As a major user of FoI to ensure we have the information we need to defend services and the members who provide them, and as a union representing many of the workers who provide that information, means we are uniquely qualified to speak up about our concerns.

"Public services are increasingly being run by the private sector, voluntary bodies and arms-length companies most of whom are not covered by the act.”

The forum will also discuss the increasing focus on proactive publication of information and how European Court of Human Rights decisions may impact on people’s right to information. 

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