How BBC Scotland digs for dirt with Freedom of Information requests to the Scottish Government yet will not respond to any themselves


See this recently published response from the Scottish FOI office to an anonymous request:


FOI reference: FOI/17/03047
Date received: 29 November 2017
Date responded: 22 December 2017

Information requested

How many Freedom of Information Requests BBC Scotland submit to the Scottish Government &/or Parliament each year, for as many years as records are available & the overall or average cost associated with handling these requests.


How many Freedom of Information Requests BBC Scotland submit to the Scottish Government each year.

The information you have requested is detailed in the table below. For the purposes of this request we have include FOI requests received from both BBC Scotland and BBC Scotland News:

Year Number of FOI requests
2008 8
2009 3
2010 8
2011 2
2012 0
2013 1
2014 2
2015 13
2016 20
2017 (to 19 Dec) 11

Overall or average cost associated with handling these requests.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have asked for. This is because although requests are considered under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA), they are allocated to the policy area responsible for that topic, and answered accordingly by an appropriate official as part of their normal duties. Officials are not required to record what proportion of their time is spend handling requests for information and therefore we do not hold a figure for the overall or average cost associated with handling these requests.


University College London did some costing estimates and came up with an average cost of a request from survey data of £189 and a maximum of £3 033.

The BBC is exempt from FOI requests relating to ‘journalism, art or literature’ and tends to tell applicants:

‘The BBC is not required by the Act to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.’

So, what is clear is that BBC Scotland has significantly increased its FOI requests to the Scottish Government since 2014 and the risk of independence became more real to them. I could find no evidence of the BBC elsewhere in the UK making any FOI requests of the UK Government. Also, these figures do not include BBC Scotland’s FOI requests to health boards or to individual hospitals nor does it include those requests made by the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties in their attempts to dig dirt which they can use to attack the SNP or to undermine the case for independence. Regular readers will have seen two recent reports by STV based on Tory and Lib Dem FOI requests.

18 thoughts on “How BBC Scotland digs for dirt with Freedom of Information requests to the Scottish Government yet will not respond to any themselves

  1. William Henderson January 5, 2018 / 9:36 pm


    What this and many of your other posts make me think is that we are witnessing a serious, coordinated propaganda event by the combined establisment media mandated by its political and other masters

    The “Union” beast would seem to see itself as cornered, wounded and desperate and will resort to any and all means to preserve itself.


  2. Ludo Thierry January 5, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    Hi John – Hi William. Looks like the always readable and reliable Derek Bateman has procured a copy of the (pretty effective – it has to be said) ‘news grid’ that the north brit Labour accounting unit has put out to the msm. (see below a snippet – and a link to the article – well worth a viewing)

    Manipulating the Media
    The media has been positively bursting with bad news stories about the SNP government over the holiday period. Expose after expose has covered the front pages and filled the bulletins with a wearying persistence. You’d think the country was going to the dogs what with single-staffed ambulances, Scots missing out on tax credits and violence against shop workers on the rise – stories often based on Freedom of Information Requests and always contriving to make the SNP the culprit.
    What has been striking is the repetitive nature of the day-by-day shock horror output, all written with similar phrases and all with the same simple narrative of SNP bad.
    You’d almost think it was planned. Well, it was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 6, 2018 / 10:15 am

      Yes, saw that. It’s a very powerful piece. Derek gets closer to Chomsky than I remember him doing before.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ludo Thierry January 5, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    Sorry John -Re. the Derek Bateman article I am recommending in the post above – I should have added that an eagle-eyed reader called John Mcdermott checked the info on one of the Labour supplied stats tables (included in the Rural Affairs piece) and noticed that Labour had managed to do a sum where £100,000 had miraculously become £1M!! (proof positive that Derek has found a genuine piece of labour Party work here – See Mr. McDermott’s post below):

    1. Bill McDermott
    Jackie Baillie appears to be at it again with her abacus. The figures in Table 12.04 on rural services spending plans on fisheries grants denote a reduction of £14.2 m to £14.1m or £100,000 and not £1.0m as indicated in the table.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ludo Thierry January 5, 2018 / 10:39 pm

    Wonders will never cease – the Herald has managed to look up from its north brit labour ‘news grid’ instructions for long enough to notice the Scotland in Union stramash. WARNING- this post contains snippets from a piece by Tom Gordon. NOTICE how Tom Gordon’s piece is headlinesd as ‘Exclusive’ – given that Stuart Campbell has written to the Electoral Commission about these matters already the term seems to be being applied with some elasticity of definition perhaps! ANYWAY – I’m just pleased that the info is finally seeping into the MSM – who knows, maybe beeb Jockland next? (see below):

    Questions raised over Scotland In Union’s election time donations
    Exclusive by Tom Gordon

    THE country’s leading anti-independence campaign is facing questions about disclosing its income to election watchdogs after the leak of a secret donor list.
    Scotland in Union is being urged to explain why it has not disclosed big donations to the Electoral Commission despite the list suggesting it should have declared more than a dozen.
    The Commission said it was now “reviewing the matter”. Scotland in Union said it was confident it had complied with the Commission’s rules but was “awaiting clarification” on the issue.
    The threshold for a publicly registered donation is £7500.
    According to the leaked list, Scotland in Union had received 14 donations of more than £7500 by July 2017, yet none appear to have been registered with the Commission.
    Of these, 12 were made during the so-called “regulated period” in the run-up to the last two general elections and the last Holyrood election, when Scotland in Union was registered with the Commission as a “non-party campaigner” in order to spend more than £10,000.
    According to the leaked list and Commission records, Scotland in Union received one £7500 donation during the regulated period before the 2015 general election, when its bosses were considering forming a new party, and spent £13,388 as a non-party campaigner.
    It received another single £7500 donation in the regulated period before the 2016 Holyrood election, when it spent £25,670 as a non-party campaigner.
    And it received ten donations above £7500, a grand total of £138,500, in the regulated before the 2017 general election, when it spent £73,818 as a non-party campaigner.
    Most of the money went on marketing research, media campaigns, rallies and voter material.
    Scotland in Union’s leaked data shows it also received two further big donations – of £9,600 and £15,000 – in late 2015, which was outwith any of the regulated periods.
    In addition, the data records seven donations of £7499, just £1 pound below the threshold for registration with the Electoral Commission, suggesting attempts to avoid publicity.

    Let’s see if the Electoral Commission are allowed to do their job here – or if the power elites make sure this is just another little mess to be swept under that oh so convenient carpet of theirs.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Clydebuilt January 6, 2018 / 10:04 pm

    Seems to me that the current onslaught started after WoS poll came up with 49% for YES

    Liked by 1 person

  6. auldacquaintance January 7, 2018 / 7:46 am

    John….. given that these christmas press boxes seem to be in the hands of the likes of Derek…. Would it be possible to do an analyses of which stories by which parties were favoured by the media..including BBC/STV over the period without checks or balances?


    • johnrobertson834 January 7, 2018 / 10:00 am

      I suppose you could count how many BBC/STV admit to having come from party FOI requests and show that all came frolem opposition parties but I don’t suppose that BBC especially feel obliged to have balance on sources. That they all largely attack SNP/ScotGov/Scottish institutions they are responsible could also be shown quantitatively is kind of evident in Derek’s piece. Wide sharing of Derek’s report seems worthwhile.


  7. Baz January 8, 2018 / 12:59 am

    Not sure you’ve actually made a point here. Shouldn’t be surprising that request have increased as people/journalists became more familiar with the legislation the longer it was on the books. If you could find no evidence of the BBC elsewhere in the UK making any FOI requests, you can’t have looked very far.

    Besides, what has any public body got to hide from FOI requests? If making an FOI request of any body is biased against them, you must have a pretty dim view of that body.

    When you say: ‘what is clear is that BBC Scotland has significantly increased its FOI requests to the Scottish Government since 2014 and the risk of independence became more real to them’ – what evidence is there of this? You have none.


    • johnrobertson834 January 8, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Isn’t the evidence there in the number of FOI requests? State broadcasters typically do not do investigative journalism against the government of the day.


      • John Robertson has no clue January 10, 2018 / 11:51 pm


        Liked by 1 person

    • grizebard January 8, 2018 / 3:31 pm

      It is very instructive to compare BBC TV and Radio4’s treatment of issues relating to the UK Government with BBC Reporting Scotland and Radio Scotland’s treatment of the same issues relating to the Scottish Government. One is generally fair and balanced, the other is very evidently skewed and confrontational. I’ll let you guess which is which…


  8. johnrobertson834 January 11, 2018 / 1:32 pm

    I’ve got a wee troll called ‘John Robertson has no clue’

    On January 10, 2018 / 11:51 pm they wrote


    I Liked it but must now give up a broken man


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