THE Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 has proven to be one of the best pieces of legislation passed by Holyrood.

Regardless of who you are, it offers a right to recorded information held by a swathe of public bodies across the country.

When Alex Salmond became First Minister, his administration mounted a number of attacks on the law that were rebuffed.

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Nicola Sturgeon’s Government has not been so blatant, but her officials have found more insidious ways of getting round the provisions of the Act.

Thanks to the efforts of a journalist, a dossier has been produced of all the Government meetings which, for some strange reason, have not been minuted.

This is a blatant ruse. If information is not recorded, it cannot be released under FOI and it spares the blushes of Ministers who may wish for details of their meetings to be undocumented.

The most egregious recent example was when Justice Secretary Michael Matheson intervened to block the return of chief constable Phil Gormley.

His meeting with former SPA chair Andrew Flanagan discussed a subject of huge importance, yet no minute was taken.

Now we learn that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland, which has a crucial role in improving policing, does not minute its monthly staff meetings.

Such a practice should concern anybody with an interest in transparency. The Government should urgently issue new guidance instructing civil servants and public bodies across Scotland to minute their meetings and live up to the spirit of FOI.