The Scottish Information Commissioner - It's Public Knowledge
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Commissioner launches public Right to Know campaign.

Image of filing Cabinet with documents flying out of itPRESS RELEASE - Issued 14th February, 2005

A television advertising campaign by the Scottish Information Commissioner highlighting the public?s new rights to access information will launch on Monday (14 February). The advert, which will run for five weeks, forms a key strand of the Commissioner?s work to raise awareness of the new Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. The Act came into force on 1 January 2005, creating for the first time a legal right to access any recorded information held by Scottish public authorities.

Dovetailing with the advert, thousands of copies of two key publications will be distributed across Scotland to support and develop the campaign message. ?Your Right to Know? is a 48-page booklet produced in partnership with the Scottish Consumer Council. It explains how to use the Act to access information and will be available from public libraries and local authority offices, with online versions also available on the internet. This detailed guide is complemented by a short leaflet explaining the basics of Scottish freedom of information law.

Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner said:

?I have a duty, unique amongst Information Commissioners, to promote freedom of information, not just enforce it. Research which was carried out for me last year shows that the Scottish public is still largely unaware of the Freedom of Information Act and what it entails. There is little point in giving the public a new right but then not telling them about it, which is why this promotional campaign is so important.

The message I want to get across is straightforward. From 1 January people in Scotland have been given a powerful new right and they should now assume that they will get the information they ask for from public authorities. If they don?t get it or they are not sure what to do, they should contact my office for advice.?

Martyn Evans, Director of the Scottish Consumer Council said:

?We hope that the user-friendly, practical guide to the new law which we have produced with the Scottish Information Commissioner will encourage people to use their new rights to obtain information from Scottish public authorities about the things that are important to them in their everyday lives. Better information will lead to increased trust and confidence in public service providers and government in general.?

Giles Moffatt, Business Development Director, The Union Advertising Agency which produced the TV advert said:

?Our aim in producing the advert was twofold ? to create widespread awareness of the new right, whilst also letting people know who is responsible for enforcing it. The advert is intended to be uplifting and empowering ? just like the new right itself.?

Ends

For more information contact Claire Sigsworth or Paul Mutch at the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner on 01334 464626. Out of hours mobile: 07976 511 752.

Notes to Editors

You are invited to attend a press conference at 11am on Monday 14 February at the Langs Hotel, 2 Port Dundas Place, Glasgow.

The advert will be previewed and the Commissioner will be available for comment along with Martyn Evans and Sarah O?Neill from the Scottish Consumer Council and a representative of The Union advertising agency.

The advert will be available to view on the Commissioner?s website following the press conference and will be broadcast for the first time on STV at 7.15pm on 14 February.

About the advert

  • The Commissioner?s promotional campaign was developed by The Union advertising agency, one of Scotland?s leading agencies, whose clients include Scotrail, Baxters, S1Jobs.com and the National Galleries of Scotland.
  • The Union commissioned Jon Harvey of MTP to produce the advert.
  • The advert will run on ITV, Channel 4 and Five across Scotland from Monday 14th February to Sunday 20 March 2005.

About the legislation and the Scottish Information Commissioner

  • The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 provides a statutory right of access to all information held by Scottish public authorities. The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 provide similar rights in relation to environmental information. Both came fully into effect on 1 January 2005 .
  • Under the Act, authorities must respond to all written requests within 20 working days. Information can only be withheld authority if it falls under one of the exemptions listed in the Act. Exemptions include where the information may prejudice national security or defence, or where the release is prohibited by another piece of legislation.
  • If an individual believes an authority is wrong to withhold information, they can appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner, who can require an authority to comply with the Act.
  • The Scottish Information Commissioner is a fully independent public official, appointed by the Queen on 24 February 2003 on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament. About the Scottish Consumer Council
    The Scottish Consumer Council (SCC) was set up by the government in 1975 to promote the interests of consumers, particularly those who experience disadvantage in society. While producers and suppliers of goods and services are usually well organised when protecting their own interests, individual consumers very often are not. The people SCC represents are consumers of all kinds: they may be council tenants, patients, parents, solicitors? clients, public transport users, or simply shoppers in a supermarket. SCC speaks up for them by communicating with the professions, industry, business, local authorities and central government, using careful research and persuasive lobbying.

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