The Tayside period dignity controversy that erupted after Jason Grant’s appointment has prompted questions about transparency, decision-making and accountability around the use of public funds.
In a search for answers, The Courier submitted 13 questions to Dundee and Angus College in relation to the recruitment process for the pioneering role.
The college answered seven, responded to one and refused to answer five.
In relation to the unanswered questions, they said: “We consider that the information you have requested in parts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 of your request – due to the low number of applicants involved – is exempt from disclosure under Section 38 (1) (b) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
“This is because it is likely that individuals may be identifiable from the information you have requested and the disclosure of this information would therefore contravene the Data Protection Act (2018) and the UK GDPR.”
1 – How many people applied for the role of period dignity officer?
2 – In the context of applications for the role, what was the gender breakdown?
3 – How many people were interviewed for the role of period dignity officer?
4 – What was the criteria for selection to be interviewed for the role of period dignity officer?
ANSWER: The Job Description and Person Specification provide the criteria applied.
5 – Of those interviewed for the position, can you tell us how many were male, how many were female, how many identified as neither male nor female, and how many preferred not to specify their gender?
6 – Did formal interviews for this position take place and, if so, where and when did they take place?
ANSWER: Interviews were held at Dundee and Angus College’s Gardyne Campus on Friday July 1.
7 – Who was on the interview panel for the position of period dignity officer?
8 – Was this interview panel consistent for every interviewee?
9 – During the recruitment process, did any member of the panel highlight a potential conflict of interest with any candidate?
10 – Has any member of the Period Dignity Working group appointed Jason Grant to previous roles/a previous role at Dundee and Angus College? If so, what positions were these and when was he appointed for each?
ANSWER: Yes – Visiting Lecturer (supply), October 2019 and July 2020; Sport and Wellbeing Officer (fixed-term) – January 2020; Student Wellbeing Officer (permanent) – August 2020.
11 – Please forward copies of all correspondence (electronic or otherwise) between all members of the Period Dignity Working group and interview panel relating to the recruitment of the role of period dignity officer.
RESPONSE: This is not a valid request for information under FOISA. The Act confers the right to request information, but not to request copies of documents which you think may contain information you are looking for.
Note: In a separate FOI question, The Courier asked the Scottish Government for copies of all communications this year involving ministers and/or officials in which there is discussion of the recruitment and/or subsequent appointment of a period dignity officer for Tayside.
They said: “The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because we did not have any involvement in this appointment and therefore do not hold any information on the recruitment or appointment.
“This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
“We understand that this appointment was conducted through Tayside Period Dignity Working Group.”
12 – Where was the vacant role of period dignity officer advertised? Please name each website.
ANSWER: My Job Scotland.
13 – How much did the Period Dignity Working Group/Scottish Government spend on the services of Grainger PR for the appointment of the role and subsequent media coverage?
Note: The Courier has resubmitted this question to ask ‘How much did Dundee and Angus College spend on the services of Grainger PR for the appointment of the role and subsequent media coverage?’.
This request was rejected, with data protection and GDPR concerns cited, and a subsequent internal review of this decision upheld the original answer.
The Courier is to take the case to the Scottish Information Commissioner.