Labour MEP Catherine Stihler recently asked Scottish Ministers what advice they had received on Scottish membership of the EU in the event of Scotland breaking away from the UK. A reasonable enough request one would have thought, especially bearing in mind the SNP have promised that Scottish membership of the European Union would be an immediate formality… but no, the shutters of “not in the public interest” have very firmly gone up.
The SNP relied on Section 18 when it refused to reveal whether the information was held. This means they believe the information should be exempt from release as it “would not be in the public interest”.
The Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, begged to disagree:
”The question of whether independence will result in Scotland automatically remaining a member of the EU, or automatically being excluded and having to apply for membership, could have a bearing on how people vote in the referendum, depending on how they view the consequences of either of these outcomes.”
“In this case, the commissioner considers that it is in the public interest to know the type of information that the ministers were taking into account in developing policy in relation to such a significant issue as independence,”
She has given the SNP until August 21st to confirm or deny the existence of any such advice.
The party has appealed on the basis that “It is the longstanding and usual practice of the Scottish government to neither confirm or deny the existence or the content of legal advice.”
“Precedence” has now replaced “not in the public interest” as an excuse for not being transparent? That abd the accompanying standard cybernat howl of “whatabout Westminster?” are not great defences when denying the public information which is very pertinent to the issues surrounding the referendum.
So, what are they hiding?
1. No attempt has been made to obtain that advice? (They think they will lose the referendum anyway, why chance making the humiliation greater?)
2. The advice has been obtained and it wasn’t to Salmond’s liking?
3. They obtained advice but it was both to Salmond’s liking and to the benefit of the secessionist cause but they decided not to release it anyway because ”It is the longstanding and usual practice of the Scottish government to neither confirm or deny the existence or the content of legal advice.”?Share on Facebook