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The Crown Office have not responded to inquiries made by the Office of The Information Commission for Scotland into whether the taxpayer funded Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini’s legal action against the media, some five months after the inquiries were made.
Inquiries were made to the Crown Office on November 17 2010 by the Information Commissioner, who at that time said he hoped to secure a response by the end of the year.
The Firm has been told by the Commissioner’s office that these inquiries have still not received a response. No explanation for the delay has been provided.
The Lord Advocate leaves office at the Scottish Election on 5 May.
Legal representatives of The Drum magazine are trying to establish whether the Lord Advocate or the taxpayer funded a series of actions against sections of the media in connection with the Hollie Greig case.
The Information Commissioner initially said that the information could not be provided because it related to an exempt category, namely information which is held by the Lord Advocate as head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths in Scotland.
“It is a criminal offence for the Commissioner to disclose information obtained by the Commissioner for the purposes of FOISA, without lawful authority (which in this case required the consent of the person from whom the information was obtained),” the Commissioner’s office told The Firm.
“The Commissioner's staff have informed the applicant that it has contacted the Crown Office to determine whether additional information can be provided without breaching section 45(1) of FOISA.
“I can confirm, however, that we are currently awaiting a response on certain matters from the Crown Office, and will contact the applicant with a formal response once this has been received.”
The Drum’s legal representatives have pressed the FOI Commissioner to provide details of what contact has been made by the Commissioner’s Office to the Crown Office, and what responses have been received from the Crown Office to those reminders.
The Crown Office have declined to contribute to this story, and maintain their boycott of The Firm.