Like Lovina Roe (Letters, 16 December) I have had negative experiences of the Freedom of Information (FOI) process, but for different reasons.
While recognising her problems, it seems to me that the biggest problem is that an act that was introduced by well-meaning politicians with admirable aims has been reduced to a charter for secrecy due to the ingenious get-out clauses identified by public authorities’ expert legal advisers, paid for out of the public purse.
Against these highly paid experts the ordinary person has little chance.
To give an example: I tried to get a breakdown of the £74,663,957.60 contract awarded in 2008 to Jacobs/Arup Partnership for the “Forth Replacement Crossing Multi Disciplinary Management Consultancy Commission” for reimbursement of man-hours for various grades/disciplines of labour.
After much to-ing and fro-ing with Transport Scotland my dissatisfaction was put to the Information Commissioner for an adjudication and they upheld Transport Scotland’s decision to withhold the rates at which the various grades/disciplines were reimbursed because this information was environmentally sensitive!
Secret Scotland is alive and well.