Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi

M Bimmler made this Freedom of Information request to Scottish Government

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Scottish Government.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to request access to all information held by the Scottish Government regarding Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.

I restrict my request to cover only documents and records pertaining to the application to transfer Mr Al Megrahi to Libya pursuant to the Prisoner Transfer Agreement and the application to release him on compassionate grounds.

By "application", I refer to the application itself and any supporting evidence submitted as well as all documents and records created during the evaluation of the application, including but not limited to internal case notes, memoranda, briefings, opinions, medical records, recommendations, consultation letters (and answers to these) as well as summaries and records of meetings concerning the case, both internally and with third parties.
I also refer to the decision on the application itself and any records connected therewith which are not covered by the sentence before.
Last, I also refer to documents created in the aftermath of the publication of the decision, especially such with discuss the implications on the public opinion on the Scottish Government, as well as letters received and replied to.

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler (Mr)

Lord McDowall left an annotation ()

This information will be exempt under the legislation. General papers will only be provided, anything of a confidential nature, referring to the prisoner or his medical issues, will most likely be refused.

Dear Sir or Madam,

in view of recent releases, I should refine this request to cover all documents which have not yet been uploaded to http://www.scotland.gov.uk. This specifically includes documents that have been considered for release but have eventually not been released.

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler

Dear Sir or Madam,

I believe you should by now have replied to my request.

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler (Mr)

Scottish Government

Dear Mr Bimmler,

I apologise that we have not yet responded to your Freedom of
Information request.
We are currently working on all Freedom of Information requests and hope
to have a response with you very shortly.

Kind regards,

Linda Miller


Linda Miller
Criminal Justice Directorate
Scottish Government
GW.15|St Andrew's House|Regent Road|Edinburgh|EH1 3DG

t: 0131 244 0284 | e: [email address]

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Scottish Government

1 Attachment

With apologies for the delay, please find a response to your FOI
request.

Linda Miller

Linda Miller
Criminal Justice Directorate
Scottish Government
GW.15|St Andrew's House|Regent Road|Edinburgh|EH1 3DG

t: 0131 244 0284 | e: [email address]

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Dear Sir or Madam,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Scottish Government's handling of my FOI request 'Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ab...

Could you please take note of my September 1 email which specifically stated:
"in view of recent releases, I should refine this request to cover all documents which have not yet been uploaded to http://www.scotland.gov.uk. This specifically includes documents that have been considered for release but have eventually not been
released."

By just pointing me to scotland.gov.uk in your reply, you have absolutely misinterpreted my request...

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler

Scottish Government

Good morning,

Reviews and appeals

If you are unhappy with our response to a request for information, you may ask for an internal review to be carried out in writing to:

Convener

Passengers' View Scotland

Area 2D Dockside

Victoria Quay

Edinburgh

EH6 6QQ

[email address]

Your request should explain why you wish a review to be carried out and should be made within 40 working days of receiving the response to your request. PTUC are required to reply within 20 working days of receipt. The review will be undertaken by staff not involved with your original request.

If you are dissatisfied with the results of the internal review, you may appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner. For details, please see the Scottish Information Commissioner's website.

Yours sincerely
Scottish Government
Central Enquiry Unit
Tel: 08457 741 741
0131 556 8400

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Dear Sir or Madam,

please forward my Internal Review request to the appropriate person.

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler

Scottish Government

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Bimmler,

For your information, we have released further information - in response
to Freedom of Information requests - on our website:
[1]www.scotland.gov.uk/lockerbie

I also attach the three documents for your information and in response to
your request.

Correspondence between Scottish Government officials and representatives
of the Libyan Government on contingency planning:

<<conting.pdf>>

Correspondence between officials at the Scottish Government and Scottish
Prison Service about the meeting with Mr Al-Megrahi:

<<hmp.pdf>>

Scottish Government official briefing ahead of the meeting between the
First Minster and the Qatari Minister for International Cooperation

<<qatar.pdf>>

I hope this is helpful,

Linda Miller

Criminal Justice Directorate
Scottish Government
GW.15|St Andrew's House|Regent Road|Edinburgh|EH1 3DG

t: 0131 244 0284 | e: [email address]

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. file://www.scotland.gov.uk/lockerbie

Dear Ms Miller,

thank you for message. This is helpful but I would like to confirm that my Internal Review request of October 3rd is still standing.

Yours ,

M Bimmler

Scottish Government

Dear M Bimmler,

Thank you for your email.

I have forwarded your request for internal review to a senior officer,
who will review your case.

They will be in touch with you.

Kind regards,

Linda Miller

Linda Miller
Criminal Justice Directorate
Scottish Government
GW.15|St Andrew's House|Regent Road|Edinburgh|EH1 3DG

t: 0131 244 0284 | e: [email address]

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Scottish Government

Dear Mr Bimmler

I have today been asked to review a response to a FOI request that you
originally submitted on 29 August, which the Scottish Government responded
to on 2 October (late), and which you asked to be reviewed on 3 October.
By my calculations, a response to your 3 October request should have been
sent to you no later than 2 November.

I can only apologise for the tardy manner in which your requests have been
handled. Furthermore, not only does the original response appear to
provide you with information that you specifically excluded, in the
correspondence that you have received from us your name has been wrongly
spelled on at least 2 occasions and at one stage you were advised to
contact the Convenor of Passengers' View Scotland if you wished to take
matters further. Again, I can only apologise for the lack of attention
paid to ensuring that the basics were right in these exchanges.

Please be assured that I am now addressing your request as a matter of
urgency and I will provide you with a fuller response as soon as
practicable. If I am not in a position to respond within 10 working days
I will contact you again to explain why.

Yours sincerely

NEIL MacLENNAN

The Scottish Government

Criminal Procedure Division

St Andrew's House

Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

( 0131-244-2370

) GTN 7188-42370

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
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Dear Mr MacLennan,

thank you for your helpful email and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Dear Mr MacLennan,

in your email of December 1, you promised to write to me in 10 working days to update me on the status of my FOI Internal Review request.

May I ask whether as of today you are able to do so?

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

M Bimmler

Scottish Government

Dear Mr Bimmler

Further to my e-mail of 1 December 2009, I have now completed my review
of our response to your request made under the Freedom of Information
(Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for "all documents which have not yet been
uploaded to http://www.scotland.gov.uk. This specifically includes
documents that have been considered for release but have eventually not
been released.". I am sorry that this has taken longer than I expected,
the reason for which is as follows.

As you may be aware, the recent Court of Session judgment - Glasgow City
Council and Dundee City Council v Scottish Information Commissioner
[2009] CSIH 73 (issued on 30 September 2009) - clarified that FOISA
gives a right to information, not documents, and that information
requests must identify precisely the information sought. A request is
not valid if it does not, in accordance with section 8(1)(c) of FOISA,
describe the information requested. As your request was a general
request for all documents, which did not clearly identify the particular
information you are looking for, in line with the Court of Session
decision it was not a valid request. Accordingly, we were not obliged
to respond to it. I apologise that we did not identify your request as
invalid sooner, but the Court of Session decision raises some complex
legal issues fundamentally affecting the way that FOISA is interpreted
and operated. It has taken us some time to assess the full implications
of the decision. Indeed, the Scottish Information Commissioner himself
is still working on guidance on the matter.

As your initial request was invalid, it follows that your request for a
review is also invalid and you do not have a right to appeal to the
Scottish Information Commissioner under FOISA.

I appreciate that this will be unwelcome news to you, particularly after
the long delay, however I hope the following will be of some help in
explaining the steps that we have taken in relation to the Al Megrahi
case.

A large amount of the information that we hold in relation to the case
has been published on our website. This includes:

* Mr Al-Megrahi's application for compassionate release and the
Libyan Government's application for prisoner transfer.
* The reports from the Scottish Prison Service (including the
medical report from Dr Andrew Fraser, with names of medical staff
redacted)
* The Governor's report
* The Prison Social Worker's report
* The recommendation from the Parole Board of Scotland
* The advice to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice
* The terms of Mr Al-Megrahi's licence

We have not published

* The names of the medical staff (other than Dr Fraser)
* "relevant medical reports" referred to in Dr Fraser's report.
These are hand-written notes from Mr Al-Megrahi's medical records which
were used by Dr Fraser in producing his report (which therefore
contained all the relevant information)
* The name of the supervising officer in East Renfrewshire Council
* The address in Libya to which Mr Al-Megrahi has been released
* The monthly medical reports that Mr Al-Megrahi is required to
provide to his supervising officer.

Much of this is personal information which would be exempt from release
under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA because disclosure would breach the data
protection principles.

Furthermore, we have not published

* Notes of meetings and telephone conversations with US and Foreign
Office officials
* Letters from the Families
* Correspondence between the Scottish Government and the UK and US
Governments

In all of the above cases, discussions / correspondence were held /
provided in confidence and the participants have not given their
permission for the information to be released. We need to strike a
balance in providing information on the one hand while not acting in
such a way that might inhibit the free and frank exchange of information
in the future and as such, the views of those who provide information
and their expectations as to how we treat that information have to be
considered. Information likely to prejudice international relations is
exempt from release under section 32(1) of FOISA while information in
respect of which a claim to confidentiality could be maintained in legal
proceedings is also exempt under section 36.

I hope the foregoing is of some use and I apologise again for the errors
in the handling of the early stages of your request.

Yours sincerely

NEIL MacLENNAN
The Scottish Government
Criminal Procedure Division
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

* 0131-244-2370
* GTN 7188-42370

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Dear Mr MacLennan,

thank you for your email. While I may regret the implications of the Court of Session judgment you mention, I am of course not in a position to deny the precedent it sets. I accept therefore that you are not able to accept my original request as valid. However, because I still intend to obtain a substantial determination on information contained in some of the documents I sought access to, I propose to make an amended Freedom of Information request which, I hope, fulfils the criteria set by the above judgment, viz. requesting information, not documents. As you have already made clear the position of the Scottish Government with regards to information concerned - were such a request to be submitted - I trust that you (or the appropriate official) can send me your determination quite quickly, so that I may, if I choose to, appeal against the use of certain exemptions to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

The request I propose to make is for:

"all information contained in the 'Notes of meetings and telephone conversations with US and Foreign
Office officials' and the 'Correspondence between the Scottish Government and the UK and US
Governments' referred to in Neil MacLennan's email of January 7, 2010 to my attention"

Pursuant to section 15 of the Act, it is the duty of the Scottish Government to provide advice and assistance to a person who proposes to make, or has made, a request for information.

Accordingly, I would ask you to advise me whether you consider the above request to be valid under the new threshold set by the Court of Session. If it is, I ask you to proceed to consider it substantially. If it is not, I ask that you provide me with assistance on how to rephrase the request such as to turn it into a valid request which succeeds in extracting the information I am looking for.

I hope that this approach will be agreeable to you, otherwise I shall be happy to have further discussion on this.

I look forward to hearing from you or another appropriate official.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Scottish Government

I am out of the office until Monday 11 January.

I may pick up emails from time to time, otherwise if urgent contact Kirsty
Hamilton on 0131-244-2610.

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
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Scottish Government

Dear Mr Bimmler

Thanks for your email.

I think your proposed request would still be considered invalid because
asking for 'all the information contained in documents' is basically the
same as asking for the documents themselves.

Essentially, you need to focus less on the documents and be more
specific about the information that you are trying to obtain.

I hope this is helpful.

NEIL MacLENNAN
The Scottish Government
Criminal Procedure Division
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

* 0131-244-2370
* GTN 7188-42370

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Dear Mr MacLennan,

in light of the new guidance which the Scottish Information Commissioner has issued ("Guidance on validity of requests following Court of Session Opinion ('True applicant' and requests for 'documents')"), I believe that you might want to reconsider whether my request is valid.

Specifically, the guidance states in Paragraph 3.1

"FOISA provides a right to obtain information and not a right to obtain copies of specific documents.
However, this does not mean that a request for a copy of a document is automatically invalid, as long
as it is reasonably clear from the request that it is the information recorded in the document that the
applicant wants. "

and in Paragraph 3.4

"Therefore, where an applicant has asked for a copy of a document and it is reasonably clear in the
circumstances that it is the information recorded in the document which the applicant wants, the
public authority should respond to the request as a request properly made under FOISA"

Directed at applicants, in paragraph 3.9, he stated

"However, to reduce the possibility of any doubt, your request may be dealt with more quickly if you ask for the
information contained in the documents rather than for the documents or records themselves."

You will without doubt note that in my email of January 7, I made a "information contained in..." request, just as suggested now by the Commissioner.

I trust that with such guidance in mind, you will agree to provide a substantial answer to my Freedom of Information request. If not, I should ask you to inform me thus in writing, so that I may complain to the Scottish Information Commissioner directly, as this case is already in the "internal review" stage of proceedings.

Looking forward to hearing from you, I remain,

yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

Scottish Government

I am out of the office until Monday 32 January.

I will pick up emails from time to time, otherwise if urgent contact
Kirsty Hamilton on 0131-244-2610.

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Scottish Government

Dear Mr Bimmler

Thank you for your email of 31 January.

I am afraid my view remains essentially the same as indicated to you in
my emails of 7th and 11th January. The only part that I will revise is
the advice in the former regarding your right of appeal to the FOI
Commissioner.

My advice now is that if you are unhappy with the outcome of my review
then you have the right to appeal to the Scottish Information
Commissioner about our decision within 6 months from today.

You can contact the Commissioner at:

Kinburn Castle
Doubledykes Road
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9DS

Email: [email address]

Tel: 01334 464610.

Yours sincerely

NEIL MacLENNAN
The Scottish Government
Criminal Procedure Division
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

* 0131-244-2370
* GTN 7188-42370

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Dear Mr MacLennan,

thank you for your e-mail of today. I regret to inform you that I have found it necessary to refer this case to the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner for a ruling.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bimmler

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

e-mail received 5 February 2010:

Dear Mr Bimmler

Application for Decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner

Public Authority: Scottish Government

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your email of 1 February 2010, applying for a decision from the Scottish Information Commissioner on the way in which Scottish Government dealt with your information request.

I will now go on to consider whether the Commissioner can accept your application or whether further action is required before the Commissioner can consider your case. I will contact you again soon.

Yours sincerely

Pauline Keith

Validation Officer

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

no update beyond the above email, although I several times asked what was going on...

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

e-mail of March 16:

Dear Mr Bimmler

Thank you for both of your emails dated 8 and 16 March 2010. I do apologise that I have not been able to respond to your query sooner. You have asked if there are any specific issues which make validation more complicated than usual. I confirm there has been a delay in your case. We are currently waiting to hear from the Scottish Government whether they have reconsidered the question as to whether your request was invalid.

I am sorry that there has been a slight delay in this process for you, we do expect to hear from the Government soon. I will update you as soon as I receive an update from the Head of Enforcement.

Yours sincerely

Pauline Keith

Validation Officer

M Bimmler left an annotation ()

e-mail of April 14:

Dear Mr Bimmler

I refer to your email to Pauline Keith (below). As I have been the person in contact with the Scottish Government about your case, I thought that I should reply instead of Pauline.

I will put together a note of the correspondence, etc which I have had with the Government on this matter in order to reply to your four questions. I should be able to give you this information next week.

I can, however, update you as to the most recent discussions which I have had with the Government and, specifically, with its FOI Unit.

I last spoke to the FOI Unit on 31 March, and they confirmed that they have now reconsidered your request and that they consider it to be valid. As a result, the FOI Unit was planning to contact the relevant policy area in anticipation of your request being “re-opened” and in anticipation of a review being carried out in response to the request for review which you made in October. The FOI Unit said they would contact me again once this was underway – on that basis, I asked Pauline not to take any further action on the case for two weeks in the expectation that the Government would be in touch with you during that period. That clearly has not happened. I will therefore contact the FOI Unit today to ask what progress, if any, has been made in relation to your case.

Hopefully, by the time I contact you next week, I will be able to give you a further update.

Given that we are satisfied your request is valid, if the Government continues to delay matters, we will proceed with your application and issue a decision ordering the Government to carry out a review.

Kind regards,

Margaret Keyse

Head of Enforcement

Scottish Government

1 Attachment

Mr Bimmler

Please find attached a letter on the above from Richard Dennis.

Regards,

Gerry Kernohan
PA/Richard Dennis

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M Bimmler left an annotation ()

(for the record)

I am not appealing this further