Lacking freedom

For weeks, finance secretary John Swinney has complained that figures he has requested from the Treasury concerning receipts from North Sea oil and gas production have not been forthcoming (your report, 19 March).

However, if he abandoned ­inter-governmental protocol, and demanded the figures under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Westminster could not prevaricate, and would be legally obliged to report the data in short order.

Unfortunately, the SNP government doesn’t appear to ­recognise the FOI Act, as its own cavalier treatment of FOI ­requests – particularly from the press – demonstrates (your ­report, same day).

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The Scottish Government seems to avoid or delay replying to almost any ­legitimate requests under the FOI Act.

It appears to believe, ­apparently, in a Freedom of Everyone Else’s Information Act, while protecting its own data with an almost paranoid zeal.

Swinney really can’t moan too much about Treasury obfuscation until he puts our own house in order, and shares the data with us.

An appropriate counterbalance to new regulation of the press would be new criminal sanctions against government ministers and officers identified by the Information Commissioner for Scotland as having improperly withheld or delayed the release of data requested under the FOI Act. What’s sauce for the goose…

David Fiddimore

Calton Road