The names of over 19,000 landowners and farmers who annually receive public subsidies totalling more than £500 million are to be kept secret as a result of a new ruling by the Scottish Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew.
Despite the fact that they’ve been named in previous years and are likely to be named again in the future, the vast majority of those currently profiting from taxpayers’ money are to be kept under wraps.
Agnew is this week publishing a decision that backs the Scottish government’s refusal to release the names of individuals in receipt of farming subsidies. It follows a ruling in November 2010 by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg that publishing the information breached people’s rights to privacy.
Agnew made clear that she thought that the farmers and landowners should be identified, but argued that her hands were tied by the court judgement. “My own view is that information of this nature concerning agricultural subsidies should generally be disclosed into the public domain,” she said.
She pointed out that the previous commissioner, Kevin Dunion, had ordered similar information to be released in 2007. “However, in the circumstances of this particular request, I am required to take into account the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union,” she added.