RAF lawyer selected as Scotland’s next information commissioner

26 Jun 17

MSPs will tomorrow nominate a senior Royal Air Force lawyer as Scotland’s new information commissioner.

Darren Fitzhenry, head of the legal advisory team in the RAF’s legal branch, takes up the post left vacant by Rosemary Agnew, who resigned in April to become Scotland’s public services ombudsman.  He will become the third holder of the post, created under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

His appointment comes as the Scottish Government’s performance on Freedom of Information (FoI) is facing mounting criticism from opposition MSPs and from journalists, who claim that FoI requests have been impeded, not least through being frequently routed through ministers’ special advisers.

In a parting shot as she left the post, Agnew sounded a warning that the Scottish FoI regime, initially admired for leading the way in the UK, might not be sustainable in its current form, and she raised the possibility of mandatory pre-emptive publication of certain classes of information.

Unlike his counterpart in the rest of the UK, the Scottish information commissioner’s brief does not extend to data protection, although the onset next year of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation is certain to have consequences for FoI in Scotland.

The post, which is for a six-year term at a current salary of £73,000, requires formal Royal approval, assuming that the nomination is agreed at Holyrood tomorrow.

Fitzhenry, a graduate of the University of Glasgow, worked as a solicitor prior to joining the RAF legal branch in 2000, where his duties included applying FoI requirements. He is also said to have wide general experience in the development, implementation and application of regulatory systems.

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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