I write to correct claims in your article (How ministers rewrote the rules to hide lack of EU legal advice, News, November 4).

The Ministerial Code was not rewritten in an attempt to avoid questions raised by Catherine Stihler MEP in relation to an independent Scotland's place in the European Union, as opposition parties had claimed.

You report that "the code was rewritten in December [2011]". This is incorrect. Changes to the code were initiated by officials in April 2011, prior to the Scottish Parliament election. Ms Stihler's Freedom of Information request was not submitted until May 2011, by which time the draft text under section 2.35, that the Sunday Herald highlights, relating to "the fact that legal advice has or has not been given", had already been amended by officials.

Loading article content

The Scottish Information Commissioner considers appeals based on the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. The Ministerial Code is for the guidance of ministers in their conduct. These changes had no impact at all in the commissioner's consideration of the Stihler appeal.

Fiona Wilson, head of news

The Scottish Government