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Count all days

We received this email last night.

And, you know, that’s really not good enough folks.

Because here’s what it says under this link:

“Reply” means an actual answer to your request, not just a confirmation of your e-mail. You should get the latter right away (obviously) as an algorithm can do it without human intervention.

But 37 Working days – almost twice The time it took to respond to the request has passed between our email and the mere confirmation.

COVID-19 is not an excuse. A person who sat at a computer and logs into a database is the same regardless of whether that computer is in an office or in their socially distant home. There is no legitimate reason FOI requests should take longer because of the virus.

As ridiculously implausible as it may seem, it looks like the Scottish government actually believes it can stall and delay the Salmond investigation until next year’s election. The two-week Christmas break in Holyrood is not far away, and the dissolution of parliament before an election usually takes place in the last week of March, six weeks before the vote, as parliament cannot sit during an election campaign.

[EDIT 1.50pm: last month’s General Election Bill delayed the formal dissolution of Parliament from 25 March to 5 May, the day before the election. However it’s not at all clear if this means “business as usual” right up until a few hours before polling stations open, or if it’s just a technical mechanism to enable the passing of any emergency COVID legislation that might be required during the campaign period.]

While the elections are still five months away, there is actually only about three months of parliamentary time in that period, and the investigation is still pending legal battle to get the information it was looking for and still hasn’t interviewed Geoff Aberdein, Liz Lloyd , Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond (although Peter Murrell is up next week, which should be interesting). John Swinney has now blocked two votes in parliament to unblock and count government legal advice for a fortnight.

It’s almost as if the First Minister wanted to prevent the pre-election investigation from passing judgment in the hopes that she would win a majority that would allow her to survive a vote of no confidence and simply twist the investigation found .

If you had asked us at the beginning of the investigation in mid-August whether it would have been possible to block it almost nine months later pending an election, we would have sniffed. The idea seemed totally ridiculous. But it seems that the First Minister is absolutely determined to evade justice and accountability, and may even succeed.

And when it does, readers, you can say goodbye to independence.

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