Wed 1 Apr, 2020

We cannot allow public trust in our public bodies to be damaged during this crisis. Ross Greer

Proposed changes to the way public bodies respond to freedom of information requests as part of emergency laws to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic go too far, the Scottish Greens have warned.

The party has confirmed it will seek to amend the legislation so that bodies cannot extend review periods, even after their deadlines to respond to requests has already been extended. If left unamended, this would result in a potential period of over 200 days before a public body needed to respond to a Freedom of Information request.

Scottish Greens culture and media spokesperson Ross Greer said:

“We understand that public bodies whose resources are stretched will struggle to meet normal deadlines, but the proposal to give them up to five months to respond to a freedom of information request, then a further five months for an internal review goes too far. From my experience, far too many public agencies use the full review period already.

“We cannot allow public trust in our public bodies to be damaged during this crisis. That means ensuring they are held to account by journalists and others. While some flexibility in their initial response time is understandable, moving to a timescale of over 200 days in total is simply not necessary or acceptable.”

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