Public or private? Freedom of information and the Scottish struggle for scrutiny of public bodies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation was introduced in Scotland in 2005, with the intention of making public bodies more accountable. This chapter examines the struggle between journalists and public bodies as the claim for access to information and the culture of secrecy in officialdom clash in the field of FoI requests. In interviews with journalists and a former information commissioner for Scotland, participants note that in the journalistic field, reporters are in a struggle with public bodies, some of which have reverted to working off grid from official channels. The implication for information policy is that despite the FoI legislation, the culture of secrecy prevalent in the post-war period remains. Journalists in Scotland asked for reviews of FoI requests in 2017 and 2019, and as the Freedom of Information Scotland Act 2002 nears its twentieth year, a review is vital for the democratic functions of civil society in Scotland.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Information Policy
EditorsAlistair S. Duff
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781789903584
ISBN (Print)9781789903577
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bourdieu
  • journalism
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • information policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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