Police Scotland has spent tens of thousands of pounds in the last three years on legal costs challenging Freedom of Information requests.
The force has racked up £77,493 in legal fees taking on Scotland’s Information Commissioner since 2015/16, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
The costs include a £63,000 bill for challenging the commissioner on the release of details involving police informants, known as covert human intelligence sources.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley took an appeal against the commissioner’s decision, ordering the release of the information, to the Court of Session but lost and the force had to cover the judicial expenses of the commissioner.
In addition, £11,634 was spent on a legal challenge against an order from the commissioner to hand over CCTV in relation to a criminal case.
An appeal against the commissioner on facts surrounding a death cost the force £2,772.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said the spending on legal fees was “excessive” given the challenging financial circumstances of Police Scotland, which had a £47 million deficit in its 2017/18 budget.
He said: “These revelations are particularly embarrassing for an organisation which is supposed to be leading the way in transparency and accountability.
“People will think that Police Scotland should respect the rulings of Scotland’s Information Commissioner, not spend tens of thousands fighting them in court.
“This is all money which could have been invested in the frontline and supporting hardworking officers. Instead, it’s been squandered on legal fees.
“With this level of waste, it’s no wonder Police Scotland finds it difficult to make ends meet.”
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