01 August 2007
The Scottish Executive has been found guilty of breaching freedom of information legislation and ordered to release the names of farmers who have received the most public subsidies in Scotland.
In a landmark judgement, the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, has criticised the Executive for wrongly applying exemptions in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. "It is my view that a significant legitimate interest exists in terms of ensuring that the public are informed of how the government distributes public funds in order to determine that the monies are being spent correctly," he said.
"This requirement for transparency and accountability is particularly relevant in the case of agricultural subsidies which account for significant amounts of public monies - more than £433 million were allocated in 2005 - and which are consequently of great interest to the general public."
Dunion has told the Executive to release the names and general locations of the 100 farmers who received the most grants between 2000 and 2004 within the next 45 days. The information was first requested in March 2005.
Download a copy of Dunion's decision here (200KB Word document).