Scotland politics

SNP criticised over freedom of information attack

The SNP has attacked an individual who submitted a series of requests for Scottish government information.

The party accused the unnamed person of wasting public money after making 85 freedom of information (FOI) requests, at a cost of more than £23,000.

Opposition parties said ministers spent taxpayers cash to protect non-existent information on Scotland and the EU.

The individual was responsible for 13.5% of FOI government requests.

Although the person was not named, First Minister Alex Salmond told parliament last month that "a Labour researcher is responsible for over 14% of all freedom of information requests".

The 85 requests were received by the Scottish government between the start of the summer recess on June 29 and November 6 2012.

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said: "Access to information is important but this one person is just wasting taxpayers' money.

"Everyone has the right to use freedom of information but there is also a responsibility to use it properly, not waste taxpayers' money on ridiculous fishing missions."

Details of the requests came after the Scottish government spent about £12,000 on a court battle to prevent having to reveal whether it had or had not commissioned advice on Scotland's future EU membership.

Ministers later abandoned the case and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament it did not have advice but was now asking the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, to give it.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP said: "The SNP is in absolutely no position whatsoever to lecture about freedom of information.

"This is the party that went to court, spending thousands of pounds in taxpayers' money to suppress information which didn't even exist."

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, added: "After a spurious appeal to hide EU legal advice that didn't exist, the SNP have a cheek to criticise others for wasting taxpayers' money.

"The SNP have an aversion to freedom of information. It goes against the cosy culture of secrecy they have developed."

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