How much did the Werritty Review cost & why is it so difficult to find out?

You know, when you’ve spent a number of years submitting freedom of information requests left, right and centre, you eventually develop a sense of when something’s not quite right, of when the wool is being pulled, and of when obstruction is the name of the game.

The Scottish Government is no stranger to criticism over the way it handles FoI requests – have a look at this, for example, which includes a quote from a senior editor, “We frequently come across obstruction, poor practice and clear efforts to restrict access to information – experiences which undermine our confidence in the system“.

Now have a read of the following correspondence and see what you think.

It began with a straightforward FoI request, submitted to Scot Gov on 1 January 2020, asking for the full financial details of commissioning Professor Werritty to Chair the Grouse Moor Management Review Group.

Here’s Scot Gov’s response:

Here’s my response to Scot Gov:

And here’s Scot Gov’s response, telling me it’s not a valid request because I’ve only provided my first name (even though this is part of an ongoing correspondence chain and my surname is provided in my email!) and that they need my surname and title to proceed:

Here’s my response:

So far it’s been six weeks since the very simple question was first asked. Why is it so difficult for the Scottish Government to provide an answer?

UPDATE 19 May 2020: Full cost of Werritty Review finally revealed (here)

13 Responses to “How much did the Werritty Review cost & why is it so difficult to find out?”

  1. 1 Keith Dancey
    February 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

    They are stalling and being bloody-minded. It is a mind-set: they are the rulers and we are the ruled.

    Sadly, I have suffered much worse – when it comes to exposing corporate conspiracies to contravene environmental law – both here in the UK and at the ECJ.

  2. February 12, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Political Correctness writ large! All that insincere niceties of approach screams delaying tactics. As if you and your well-known name were just another casual enquirer who didn’t know the FoI procedure better than themselves..

  3. 3 Dougie
    February 12, 2020 at 10:58 am

    A well established process of obstruction and denial.
    Bad enough that the Werritty report is far from satisfactory, but if it transpires that it cost an exorbitant amount then it will be a further source of criticism.
    (The Sc. Gov has form here. The Edinburgh trams fiasco enquiry costs are now over £10M and the report is still awaited.)

  4. 4 Mo Richards
    February 12, 2020 at 11:45 am

    Delaying tactics, no two ways about it. They hope you will give up – keep going you are doing a great job!

  5. 5 George M
    February 12, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    I’ve my own views on Dr. Werritty and his relationship with other involved Parties on which I will remain silent at the moment. However I am glad that you are pursuing this particular line and wait with bated breath as to what will unfold.

  6. 6 Pip
    February 12, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    I expected nothing less – nice work if you can get it. I could have produced an equally useless report for a couple of quid.

  7. 7 AnMac
    February 12, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    I think the Scottish Government spokesman is almost disdainful in the way he is dealing with this request. We are entitled to know how much money was spent by them on an inquiry that took so long and came out with a fudged decision at the end of the day.
    The evidence was overwhelming that a radical solution to DGS had to be found, and soon, after years of dithering.
    Your original email had the correct information that he said was absent.
    Keep up the good work on behalf of us all. We salute you.

  8. 8 Dougie
    February 12, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    I don’t know whether anyone on here has had occasion to submit an FOI request and had the recipient fail to respond.
    I have had that experience once (a request to a council). As soon as the statutory time limit elapsed I contacted the Scottish Information Commissioner. He acted quickly and I got a reply with all the information that I requested.

    For the Sc. Gov. to dodge/fail to provide the information requested suggests that there is a bad smell emanating from somewhere.

  9. 9 michael gill
    February 13, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I notice “Mike” signed his name “Mike” in the same letter that he complained you singed yours “Ruth”

  10. 12 Adam
    February 26, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    You refer to the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 in your reply. Your request was being dealt with under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (correctly, in my view). Information which must be provided under the Regulations is ‘exempt information’ under the 2002 Act (see, section 39(2) of the Act). (If the exemption is not claimed by the public authority then the infromation must be considered under both regimes.)

    The Scottish Information Commissioner intervention into the FOI practices of the Scottish Government is still ongoing:


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