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Request for data from the Central Legal Office

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Dear NHS National Services Scotland,
I am submitting an FOI request for the following information relating to the Central Legal Office (CLO)

1. What is its annual budget and who is it accountable to?
2. Who sits on its management team and what are their grades?
3. How many solicitors does the CLO employ and what are their grades?
4. What are the salary scales of the solicitors the CLO employs?
5. Does the CLO have a policy on employing family members?
6. Does the CLO employ any family member and if so in what capacity and who are they related to?
7. Does the CLO have a policy about instructing /appointing advisers (eg Counsel) who are family members including husband, wife, partners, siblings, nephews and nieces etc?
8. Does the CLO appoint or instruct any advisers including members of the Faculty of Advocates (Counsel) who are family members as referred to above and if so, what is their relationship to any CLO employee who is a relative?
9. If the CLO does instruct/appoint family members including Counsel, what did each of these persons earn in the last 3 financial years?

Yours faithfully,

A Smith

nss foi, NHS National Services Scotland

Dear A Smith,  

 

Freedom of Information Reference: FOI-2021-000205

 

I refer to your freedom of information request which we received on 28^th
March 2021 requesting the following information:

 

Dear NHS National Services Scotland,

I am submitting  an FOI request for the following information relating to
the Central Legal Office (CLO)

 

1.  What  is its annual budget and who is it accountable to?

2. Who sits on its management team and what are their grades?

3. How many solicitors does the CLO employ and what are their grades?

4. What are the salary scales of the solicitors the CLO employs?

5. Does the CLO have a policy on employing family members?

6. Does the CLO employ any family member and if so in what capacity and
who are they related to?

7. Does the CLO have a policy about instructing /appointing advisers (eg
Counsel) who are family members including husband, wife, partners,
siblings, nephews and nieces etc?

8. Does the CLO appoint  or instruct any advisers including members of the
Faculty of  Advocates (Counsel) who are family members as referred to
above and if so, what is their relationship to any CLO employee who is a
relative?

9. If the CLO does instruct/appoint family members including Counsel, what
did each of these persons earn in the last 3 financial years?

 

I confirm that under the terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland)
Act 2002, a response to your information request will be sent within 20
working days of receipt, i.e. no later than 26^th April 2021. 

 

Kind regards,

Katie

 

Katie Gallacher

 

FOI Support Administrator

Strategy, Performance & Service Transformation

 

 

NHS National Services Scotland

Gyle Square

1 South Gyle Crescent

Edinburgh

EH12 9EB

 

[1][email address]

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

NHS National Services Scotland is the common name for the Common Services
Agency for the Scottish Health Service. [2]www.nhsnss.org

 

 

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.nhsnss.org/

Michael Stewart, NHS National Services Scotland

Dear A Smith

 

I refer to your request dated 28 March 2021 for information in terms of
the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

 

Your request and the response (using the same numbering)

 

1.  What  is its (NHS Central Legal Office) annual budget and who is it
accountable to?

 

·       The NHS Central Legal Office (“CLO”) budget is £9.5Million.  It is
accountable to the Chief Executive of NHS National Services Scotland.

 

2. Who sits on its management team and what are their grades?

 

·       The management team of CLO is found here -
[1]https://clo.scot.nhs.uk/our-people/senio...

 

·       The grading of members of staff is personal data therefore exempt
from disclosure. 

 

3. How many solicitors does the CLO employ and what are their grades?

 

·       68 solicitors are employed by CLO.

 

·       Solicitors are either Band 8A, 8C or 8D on Agenda for Change
scales depending on their role. 

 

4. What are the salary scales of the solicitors the CLO employs?

 

·       Salary scales are a matter of public record and can be found here
- [2]https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/pcs/PCS2020...

 

5. Does the CLO have a policy on employing family members?

 

·       There is no policy relating to the employment of family members.
CLO must follow NHS National Services Scotland’s policy and processes for
the recruitment of any member of staff.

 

6. Does the CLO employ any family member and if so in what capacity and
who are they related to?

 

·       Yes, CLO does have members of the same family employed.  Their
details are personal information and exempt from disclosure.

 

7. Does the CLO have a policy about instructing /appointing advisers (eg
Counsel) who are family members including husband, wife, partners,
siblings, nephews and nieces etc?

 

·       No policy exists in relation to this category of advisor.

 

8. Does the CLO appoint or instruct any advisers including members of the
Faculty of  Advocates (Counsel) who are family members as referred to
above and if so, what is their relationship to any CLO employee who is a
relative?

 

·       Yes, CLO may instruct advisers who are related to members of CLO
staff.  The other information requested is exempt as it is personal
information.

 

9. If the CLO does instruct/appoint family members including Counsel, what
did each of these persons earn in the last 3 financial years?

 

·       This request would involve the provision of personal information
and even if provided anonymously the relevant individuals could
potentially be identified and it is therefore for exempt from disclosure.

 

If you are unhappy about any aspect of how this matter has been dealt
with ​you can ask us to review the handling of your request by writing to
the Head of Corporate Affairs, NHS National Services Scotland,
Headquarters, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9EB
within 40 working days of the date of this email. You also have the right
to apply to the Scottish Information Commissioner at Kinburn
Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9DS. The
Commissioner does not take up all cases he receives, and will decide
whether or not to look into your concerns further. 

 

Regards

 

Michael Stewart

Head of Litigation

Accredited Specialist in Medical Negligence Law

 

CentralLegalOffice | Anderson House | Breadalbane Street | Edinburgh | EH6
5JR

 

Tel: 0131 275 7848
[3]www.clo.scot.nhs.uk

 

 

 

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This email is intended for the named recipient only. If you have received
it by mistake,
please (i) contact the sender by email reply; (ii) delete the email from
your system; .
and (iii) do not copy the email or disclose its contents to anyone.

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References

Visible links
1. https://clo.scot.nhs.uk/our-people/senio...
2. https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/pcs/PCS2020...
3. http://www.clo.scot.nhs.uk/

Dear Michael Stewart,
In relation to answer 2, what is meant by grading of staff is “personal data” and why is it being withheld if grading of solicitors is being released?

In relation to answer 3, it is not clear from the link what the breakdown of 8a, 8c and 8d is?
Please indicate separately how many solicitors are on each grade?
Which grade are the Senior Solicitors on?
Are there any members of staff on the management team who are solicitors and if so what are their grades?

In relation to answer 5, if family members are employed, why is there no policy?

In relation to answer 6, the link to the website appears to show members of staff called Shippin - the head of the CLO and a solicitor. Are they related? Why is it stated that information is exempt - under specifically what provisions is it exempt?

It is confirmed at answer 8 that advisers out with the CLO and are family members are instructed by the CLO.
Given that public funds are involved, should there not be a policy preventing the instruction of family members?

In relation to answer 8, as no policy exists, is the instructions of family members appropriate given that public funds are involved? Is there not an obvious conflict of interest and what steps will be taken to remedy this? Are any of the practices mentioned above audited from outside the CLO?

Yours sincerely,

A Smith

Michael Stewart, NHS National Services Scotland

I am on holiday on Friday and Monday (14 and 17 May). Your e-mail will not
be actioned in my absence. If the matter cannot wait, please contact our
reception on 0131-275-7800 and ask for a solicitor in Team B.

 

 

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This email is intended for the named recipient only. If you have received
it by mistake,
please (i) contact the sender by email reply; (ii) delete the email from
your system; .
and (iii) do not copy the email or disclose its contents to anyone.

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Michael Stewart, NHS National Services Scotland

Dear Mr Smith

 

I refer to your e-mail below with follow-up questions in relation to my
e-mail of 23 April 2021. I have the following response to your questions:-

 

1.         In relation to answer 2, what is meant by grading of staff is
“personal data” and why is it being withheld if grading of solicitors is
being released?

 

The grade of a particular person (including members of the management
team) is personal data about that person (as defined in the Data
Protection Act 2018).  Personal information is exempt from disclosure
under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (‘FOISA’) in terms of
Section 38 of that Act.  The provision of this information would be a
breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR.

 

This would include the provision of information that may allow for the
identification of a living individual and disclosure of personal data
about that person.

 

Please see the guidance of the Scottish Information Commissioner for more
clarification -
https://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/...

 

2.        

(a)        In relation to answer 3, it is not clear from the link what the
breakdown of 8a, 8c and 8d is?

 

The rates of pay and breakdown is on the 2nd and 3rd page of Annex A of
the document provided with the link (p. 8 of 25 – p. 9 of 25 on the pdf).

 

(b)        Please indicate separately how many solicitors are on each
grade?

 

Providing this information would allow the identification of the grading
and salary of individuals, which amounts to personal information and is
exempt for the reasons set out above.

 

(c)        Which grade are the Senior Solicitors on?

 

As above, this amounts to personal information and is exempt from
disclosure.

 

(d)        Are there any members of staff on the management team who are
solicitors and if so what are their grades?

 

The Legal Adviser and some Heads of Department are solicitors. Their
grades are personal information and exempt from disclosure as above.

 

3.         In relation to answer 5, if family members are employed, why is
there no policy?

 

This is not a request for information that is held in terms of FOISA. 
There is no requirement in terms of FOISA to explain why there is no
policy.  However, in an effort to provide clarification, it has been
explained that NHS National Services Scotland’s policies and procedures
are followed for any recruitment process.  Nothing in the NSS Recruitment
policy precludes a family member of an existing member of staff from being
recruited. No member of staff would be involved in the recruitment of a
member of their own family.

 

4.         In relation to answer 6, the link to the website appears to
show members of staff called Shippin - the head of the CLO and a
solicitor. Are they related? Why is it stated that information is exempt -
under specifically what provisions is it exempt?

 

This request amounts to a request for personal information about
individual members of staff and is exempt from disclosure for the reasons
given above in response to Question 1.

 

5.         It is confirmed at answer 8 that advisers out with the CLO and
are family members are instructed by the CLO. Given that public funds are
involved, should there not be a policy preventing the instruction of
family members?

 

As mentioned above FOISA does not include any requirement to provide an
explanation of the reason for not having a policy.

 

For the sake of clarification, Solicitors are also required to comply with
their professional duties as set out by the Law Society of Scotland.  The
Law Society of Scotland does not have any policy on the instruction of
family members nor any rule that precludes such instruction. No individual
solicitor will engage an external advisor who is also a family member.

 

6.         In relation to answer 8, as no policy exists, is the
instructions of family members appropriate given that public funds are
involved? Is there not an obvious conflict of interest and what steps will
be taken to remedy this? Are any of the practices mentioned above audited
from outside the CLO?

 

As explained above there is no requirement to address these additional
queries in terms of FOISA as they are seeking an explanation rather than
information that is held. Reference is made to the comments in the answer
above.

 

CLO, like NSS as a whole (and other Health Boards) is subject to periodic
audits by Audit Scotland.

 

I hope that this e-mail provides the clarification you need. If you are
not satisfied, however, you will find details of your right to seek review
at the foot of my original e-mail.

 

Regards

 

Michael Stewart

Head of Litigation

Accredited Specialist in Medical Negligence Law

 

CentralLegalOffice | Anderson House | Breadalbane Street | Edinburgh | EH6
5JR

 

Tel: 0131 275 7848
[1]www.clo.scot.nhs.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are A Smith please sign in and let everyone know.