Blunders prevent release of briefing document on fiscal autonomy for Holyrood before the May elections

Christine Grahame, MSP, alleges that mistakes by ministerial staff and staff at the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner, have resulted in a key briefing document on increased fiscal powers for Holyrood being kept secret until after the May elections.

Ms Grahame condemned what she described as the "supposed error" as extremely convenient for ministers as it will now delay any ruling for several months. She claims that "rewarding a failure" on the part of those withholding information with further delay is a major loophole in the freedom of information regime.

The document she requested was entitled: Fiscal Autonomy - Full Fiscal Powers - Financial Independence. The Commissioner's Office told Ms Grahame last week that the application was back to square one since it had emerged that the Scottish Executive had not carried out a review of its initial refusal in response to Ms Grahame's request which had been made on 3 May 2006.

The Commissioner's Office apologised for the error and the fact it had been detected at such a late stage of the investigation. Ms Grahame was told that the Commissioner would be unable to enforce a decision that went beyond requiring the Executive to carry out the required review and could only address the Executive's original refusal to supply the information.

Anger as ‘error’ blocks release of key spending document (The Herald, 5 March 2007)