Press and Journal's car cost FoI request upheld

By Hamish Mackay

A Scottish police force has been ordered to reveal to Aberdeen-based regional paper The Press and Journal the cost of providing its two most senior officers with company cars.

Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion has upheld a request by The Press and Journal to know how much the Northern Constabulary spends on providing luxury 4×4 Range Rovers to its chief constable and his deputy.

The morning newspaper claims that for the previous four years, the chief constable of Northern Constabulary and his deputy have travelled around in relatively modest Volvo saloons.

However, in January 2005, it was noticed that they had been replaced with the Range Rovers.

After failing to get satisfaction from the force’s press office, The Press and Journal lodged an FoI request to find out how much it was spending on buying and maintaining the cars.

The force’s response was to cite two exemptions under the act, in order to withhold the information — a decision now overruled by Dunion, who has ordered the force to reveal the information within the next two months or appeal to the Court of Session.

Press and Journal reporter John Robertson, who specialises in FoI requests, said: "Instead of one — probably soon forgotten — story revealing to readers how much their chief constable’s company car cost, we have instead printed more than half a dozen stories following the case. And it still is not over as the force is yet to reveal the information and has not confirmed whether it will do so."

Northern Constabulary will decide its next move following a meeting of its joint board on 9 May.

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