NHS Lothian criticises Scottish Information Commissioner

NHS Lothian has hit out at the Scottish Information Commissioner after releasing the PFI agreement to build the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Chief executive James Barbour has written a stinging letter to Kevin Dunion, claiming that comments in the press "led to a misrepresentation of NHS Lothian's actions".

Mr Dunion had claimed NHS Lothian failed to provide justification for withholding the information, and that it had incorrectly claimed the cost of providing it would be excessive.

Professor Barbour cites three different pieces of legal advice saying the information should not have been disclosed after a freedom of information request from May Docherty in January 2005. He wrote: "There were also suggestions in the media that NHS Lothian had delayed in complying with this request. In fact, the review took more than two years and from July 5, 2005 until August 11, 2006 we heard nothing from the office of the Scottish Information Commissioner [your office] ... If you had directed NHS Lothian to disclose the contract at any point during this period of delay, then Ms Docherty would have had the information . . . in a timely manner."

John Matheson, director of finance at NHS Lothian, said today: "I am delighted to see this information published as NHS Lothian has always been willing to place this contract in the public domain. However, legal advice and concerns about business confidentiality expressed by our partners led us to believe this was not possible."

NHS chief attacks claims over PFI contract (The Scotsman, 30 November 2007)

NHS leaders hit back at Information boss (The Scotsman, 1 December 2007)