December 6th 2017 | COSLA Conference Centre

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Thursday, 1 December, 2016


Registration, exhibition and refreshments


Welcome and introduction by the Chair 

Keith Aitken, Journalist and Broadcaster

Session 1: The Future of FOI

Recent policy developments have had a material impact on FOI in Scotland. These include the extension of FOI to new bodies (private prisons, secure accommodation for children, grant-aided schools, and independent special schools from 1 September 2016), integration of health and social care, advancements in information governance, and Westminster’s response to a report published by the Commission on Freedom of Information (published 1 March 2016). This opening session will consider the latest issues affecting FOI practitioners in Scotland, and where access to public data sits in the wider European context.


Scottish Government Address

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, The Scottish Government


The Scottish Information Commissioner’s address

Rosemary Agnew, The Scottish Information Commissioner


Access to information in a changing Europe

Graham Smith, Cabinet Advisor on Access to Documents, European Ombudsman


Questions and discussion


Refreshments, exhibition and networking

Session 2: FOI, Transparency, and openness

The Scottish Government published its Open Data Strategy in early 2015, which aims to make data open and available for others to use and reuse. The ambition is to provide a societal asset which offers significant benefits to many. Nearly two years on, what information has been made available through this strategy, and what role will FOISA play in ensuring transparency and accountability in an age of openness?


Public authority data and the public interest

Rena Gertz, Information Governance Compliance Officer, Licensing, Administration & Democratic Services, East Lothian Council


Open data and open government

Doreen Grove, Scottish Government


Questions and discussion


Lunch, exhibition, and networking

Session 3: Masterclasses

Through a series of masterclasses delegates will be able to explore best practice in freedom of information.

Masterclass A: Freedom of Information and Personal Data

  • Data protection principles, and applying them to FOI requests
  • Balancing the legitimate interests of requesters and the privacy of individuals
  • Evaluating how things might change with the General Data Protection Regulation

Christine O'Neill, Partner and Chairwoman, Brodies LLP

Masterclass B: Making publication work for you

(Almost) everyone agrees publishing information is a “good idea”. But it doesn’t just happen: it requires positive decision-making, investment of time, resources and personal energy.

We’ll look at some of the challenges and share tried and tested ways to make proactive publication work for you.

Sarah Hutchison, Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner

Masterclass C: How Journalists Use FOI

Rob Edwards, Environment editor of the Sunday Herald and co-founder of The Ferret, an investigative journalism co-operative

Moderator: Rachel Hamada, Journalist Director, The Ferret

Masterclass D: The Re Use of Public Sector Information Regulations and FOISA

The new Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (ROPSI) came into force last year replacing the 2005 version. For the first time, most public sector organisations (including in Scotland) have an obligation to allow re-use of most of their information whether it is publicly available or disclosed as a result of a FOISA request.  Join Ibrahim Hasan as he discusses the implications for the Scottish public sector in particular the impact on the information they produce and disclose under FOISA.

Ibrahim Hasan, Expert on UK information law, Director of Act Now Training


First masterclass session




Second masterclass session


Refreshments, exhibition and networking

Session 4: What are the challenges to accessing information in your sector?

There are many examples and cases demonstrating knowledge and information exchange within sectors (health, education, local authorities, etc). However, this is not necessarily the case at cross-sector levels. This interactive panel discussion will bring together FOI practitioners from a variety of sectors to explore how the pervasive silo mentalities can be broken, and how organisations with a variety of different remits can work together to make crucial information more accessible to the public


Panel discussion: the challenges of accessing FOISA:

  • Allison Black, Managing Solicitor (Information Governance), Renfrewshire Council
  • Ed Mackey, Unit Manager (Knowledge and Information Management), Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Chris Bartter, Campaign for Freedom of Information Scotland
  • Rosemary Agnew, The Scottish Information Commissioner

Further panellists to be confirmed


Closing Address

Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner 


Reflecting on Scotland's FOI context

Rosemary Agnew, The Scottish Information Commissioner



Chairman's summary and conclusions

Keith Aitken


Close of event