I must credit Carl31 with having sent this piece to me before I posted my article this morning. However, I have only now read it, and as it looks as things from a different perspective than mine, I thought it useful to post.
Should Scotland become independent, they would either have to apply for EU membership as a new state, or retain membership since they are currently a territory with membership, as part of the UK. The Scottish Government (SG) was subject to a FoI request on the existence of legal advice on this question. They refused, but the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) ruled that the info should be made public. I wrote recently in a short piece, about the dual position of the law over the release of the existence of this legal advice (please see these pages, Guest Posts, September 24th).
I wrote because there seemed to be the onset of legal proceedings in which both sides would have ‘the Public Interest’ at the heart of their case. To either release or fail to release the info in question were both considered to be in the Public Interest. Well, there have been developments…
At the foot of the story its stated that the court case has been dropped. There is a current furore due to the SG’s release of the information that the legal advice doesn’t currently exist. A lot is being made of past utterances of the First Minister that indicated the legal advice existed. This position has also been defended by other ministers, presumably in full knowledge. I will leave the political game to the politicians since, same as the last piece, I don’t want to put a particular slant in here.
If the court case has been dropped, what does this mean to the opposing/dual legal positions of the SIC and the SG? Does it mean that the openness of Freedom of Information has won the day against protecting the advice of civil servants? Can we expect similar heart lifting victories for such Freedoms like (topically) full openness and admissions from West Yorkshire Police re Hillsboro’, openness from the BBC and other organisations over who knew what about the deplorable Mr Savile and when, and a totemic escape of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in a hot air balloon?
(In case you’re wondering why that’s in there … Last week’s Sun, rag that it is, had some examples of what the bookies had at shorter odds than Celtic beating Barca. Workmates and I chuckled – I wouldn’t know its contents unless pointed out to me – at such stuff as ‘President Obama announcing the existence of aliens’, ‘Cameron and Miliband embarking on a Twitter spat’ or, strangely, ‘Assange exiting the Ecuadorean Embassy in a hot air balloon’. Well, IMO the Glorious Hoops might have just pulled it off if they had just maintained full concentration for all of each half, instead of not quite for the last couple of minutes of each. Don’t hold your breath waiting on the rag acknowledging these efforts.)
I think not. Since the court case has been dropped, the possibility of an imminent legal test of both the SG’s and the SIC’s arguments to see which holds sway is no more. This means that both sides can maintain the opinions and legal positions with validity. I had been looking forward to it 😦 … Oh well, I will just have to make do with the current political pantomime. 🙂