December 6th 2017 | COSLA Conference Centre

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Wednesday, 6 December, 2017


Registration, Exhibition and Refreshments

Session 1: Reshaping the FOI Landscape

To date, two orders have been made extending coverage of FOISA with a further extension of coverage currently under consideration.  At the same time GDPR and recent press reports on the management of FOISA are encouraging organisations to review practice around FOI requests.


Opening Remarks from the Chair

Keith Aitken, Journalist and Broadcaster


Opening Address

Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business, The Scottish Government


Questions to the Minister


Scottish Information Commissioner’s Address

Daren Fitzhenry, Scottish Information Commissioner


Questions to the Scottish Information Commissioner


FOI Across the UK

Ken Macdonald, Head of Regions, Information Commissioner’s Office


Questions to Ken Macdonald


Refreshments, Exhibition and Networking

Session 2: Masterclasses

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


1st Masterclass




2nd Masterclass

Masterclass A: The Implications of GDPR for FoI: All Change or More of the Same?

This session seeks to provide an overview of the new data protection regulation, exploring its impact on freedom of information processes while providing an opportunity for delegates to discuss the interface between the two regimes.

Maureen Falconer, Regional Manager – Scotland, Information Commissioner’s Office

Margaret Keyse, Head of Enforcement, Scottish Information Commissioner

Masterclass B: Navigating the â€‹Environmental Information Regulations

Many public authorities run into problems when it comes to environmental information.  Whether it’s a failure to spot requests, unfamiliarity with the detail of the regulations, or the subtle differences that exist between FOI and EIR practice, there are a number of pitfalls that can catch the unwary practitioner out.  

With help from real-world case studies, this interactive session will examine some of the differences between the EIR exceptions and FOISA exemptions, exploring cases where those differences might be significant, and giving delegates skills to help them better navigate the EIRs. 

Euan McCulloch, Deputy Head of Enforcement, Scottish Information Commissioner

Lorraine Currie, Freedom of Information Officer (Policy and Information), Scottish Information Commissioner

Masterclass C: “If only I’d known then what I know now” 

What have you learned about managing FOI? We’ll hear from experienced practitioners sharing the FOI lessons they’ve learned the hard way, before gathering practical tips from the audience to deliver more effective and efficient FOI. This is an interactive session where you’ll be able to share ideas, big and small.

Chair: Sarah Hutchison, Head of Policy & Information, Scottish Information Commissioner

Expert Panel:

  • Nazim Hamid, Senior Officer, Discovery Legislation Team, Glasgow City Council
  • Iain Gray, University Data Protection Officer, University of Aberdeen
  • Rhoda Davidson, Information Officer/Corporate Records Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage


Lunch, Exhibition and Networking

Session 3: Information Access – Are We Good Enough?

Published in April 2017, the special publication ‘Proactive Publication: time for a rethink?’ states that “Publication of information is important to building and maintaining trust and confidence in public services.” Can Scotland do more to proactively release information? And how can we make information more accessible to those who sometimes struggle to access it?


Freedom of Information: Where Are We Now and Can We Do More?

  • Equally focus on rights holders as well as duty bearers
  • Assessing and updating Scotland’s access to information rights must become part of our ‘business as usual approach’
  • Need to explicitly incorporate international developments on access to information rights

Carole Ewart, Co-convener, Campaign for Freedom of Information


Understanding the Value of Open Data

Whilst the Scottish public sector is continuing to publish more open data, are we any further forward in understanding how to find the value of this data?  This talk will cover:

  • SCA approach to open data
  • Examples from Glasgow and Edinburgh
  • How to better understand the value of data

Sally Kerr, Digital Innovation Manager, The City of Edinburgh Council


Freedom of Information and Young People

  • FOI requests have been invaluable tools for the Scottish Youth Parliament in the campaign against sonic anti-loitering ‘Mosquito’ devices
  • It is vital that young people, who are liable to be ignored, have recourse to FOI when trying to hold public authorities to account 

Kit McCarthy MSYP, Member, Scottish Youth Parliament 


Questions and Discussion


Refreshments, Exhibition and Networking

Session 4: Open Information and Government

Reports such as the Trust Baromester by Edelman suggest that there is global crisis in trust of government, business, media and non-governmental organisations. Can we help redress this trend in Scotland through legislation such as FOISA and by the public sector and it's partners being more open with their data and about how decisions are made?


The Value of Accessible Information in an ‘Alternative Facts’ World

Alastair Brian, Fact Checker, Ferret Fact Service


Panel Discussion: Is Open Government More Efficient?

Panellists include:

  • Alastair Brian, Fact Checker, Ferret Fact Service
  • Doreen Grove, Head of Open Government, Scottish Government
  • Sarah Hutchison, Head of Policy & Information, Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Professor Alistair Duff, Professor of Information Policy, Edinburgh Napier University


Closing Remarks from the Scottish Information Commissioner

Daren Fitzhenry, Scottish Information Commissioner


Closing Remarks from the Chair

Keith Aitken, Journalist and Broadcaster


Close of the Event