THE information watchdog has expressed her "dis-appointment" at the Scottish Government's continuing efforts to withhold public information.

Ministers withheld 18 Health and Social Care Directorate internal audit reports from publication, despite "strongly worded advice" from Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew to reconsider.

She criticised ministers for attempting to adopt a "class-based blanket approach" to non-disclosure, which contradicted her own advice, that of the courts, and even the Government's own internal guidance.

Ms Agnew has now concluded most of the information was appropriate for release.

Labour described the ruling as a "significant intervention" which "should embarrass SNP ministers".

A spokeswoman for Ms Agnew said: "The commissioner's decision expresses disappointment that the ministers continued to seek to exempt the information in its entirety throughout her investigation, despite a 2007 Court of Session ruling which considered and rejected a similar blanket approach."

Ministers were given advance notice of the likely outcome of her deliberations if they continued to pursue general arguments against disclosure, and were given "strongly worded advice to reconsider their position".

The ruling stated: "The commissioner is dis-appointed that the ministers did not take that advice, but instead continued to rely on general arguments to explain why they considered all information to be exempt."

Ministers have been ordered to disclose the withheld reports, subject to the redaction of some exempt information.