Commenting on today's revelation, as reported by the Ferret, that Rosemary Agnew, the Scottish Information Commissioner, bowed to Scottish Government pressure to alter one of her decisions, James McAnaney, RISE's education spokesperson, said:
"These revelations are absolutely damning. They show that the Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew has not met her own standards of political impartiality.
"It is now clear that Agnew faced pressure from the Scottish Government to change her decision relating to tuition fees in 2013. The Commissioner initially resisted this pressure and even felt strongly enough to invite the government to pay for legal advice on the matter. She also makes clear her view that acquiescing to the government's demands would compromise her independence.
"But in the end, and under clear pressure from the Scottish Government, she agreed to their demands.
"Given her office's recent correspondence with RISE, which revealed that the SIC intended to observe purdah rules irrelevant to its conduct, serious questions must now be asked about other decisions Agnew has made, including her decision to delay a request for information on national standardised testing.
"There are now real doubts about Agnew's ability to remain impartial and independent in the face of government pressure.
"To be clear, however, this story does not end there.
"Agnew described the Scottish Government's conduct in this matter as as 'inappropriate'. It is vital that we are made fully aware of the nature of that conduct. We also need to know the name of the Minister, or Ministers, on whose behalf this pressure was applied.
"We also need to know exactly why it was so important that the information in question was kept secret, particularly given the controversy surrounding the Scottish Government's claims regarding the application of tuition fees to English students in the event of Scottish independence. Why did the government fight so hard, and put the Scottish Information Commissioner in this position, in order to keep the truth out of the public domain?
"Given the seriousness of these allegations nothing short of full disclosure is acceptable."
The Ferret's story can be read here: https://theferret.scot/information-watchdog-secrets/