A WATCHDOG has confirmed it will investigate the handling of freedom of information (FOI) requests by the Deputy First Minister’s office.

Scottish Information Commissioner Daren Fitzhenry was asked to examine whether a request from John Swinney and his special adviser Colin McAllister led to information being withheld from an FOI release.

In a letter to Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott, Mr Fitzhenry confirmed the case would form part of a wider review into the Scottish Government’s handling of FOI requests.

The commissioner confirmed the review would look into what the role special advisers have in the process and if there is any evidence of requests being blocked for “tenuous reasons”.

He will also investigate if politically sensitive requests are handled in a different way and if this is detrimental.

The letter stated the cases Mr Scott referred to “will be included in the list of cases to be examined”. Ministers told Parliament special advisers only assess responses for accuracy but research by journalist James McEnaney suggests otherwise.