A Scottish Government minister is the subject of a complaint from Scotland on Sunday newspaper after spoiling an exclusive.
On Saturday afternoon, in response to an enquiry from Scotland on Sunday, John Swinney released a statement to all media about the disappearance of personal information about hundreds of Scottish NHS workers – lost in transit by government officials, a chilling echo of 25 million missing child benefit files, UK-wide, earlier in the week.
In doing so, he spoiled an exclusive by Scotland on Sunday’s political editor, Eddie Barnes. As a result, a formal complaint has been submitted by the paper to the Scottish Government.
Said an insider: “It was a stinker of a decision. If they keep doing this, eventually media are going to stop going to them for comment before going to press.”
On Wednesday, in Parliament, Swinney explained: “Following receipt of an enquiry from the Scotland on Sunday newspaper on the issue on Saturday afternoon, I decided to issue a statement making public the details we had at that time regarding the fact that a package
was not accounted for. I did this as I judged that in the context of wider public concern about missing data, that there was an overriding need to explain the position.”
Also, in Parliament, Swinney was asked – in a written question from fellow MSP, Jackie Baillie – whether the matter of the missing personal information only became public in response to an inquiry from Scotland on Sunday. He replied: “The Scottish Government became aware on Friday that a package of pension benefit statements might have gone missing. Investigations were already underway when we received an inquiry from Scotland on Sunday. On this
occasion, exceptionally, Ministers took the view that in the context of wider public concern about missing data there was an over-riding need to release the full facts about the NHS pension statements.”
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