Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 10:08 UK

Private prison victory for union

Kilmarnock Prison
Kilmarnock was Scotland's first private prison

Scotland's Information Commissioner has ordered the release of key financial data from a £50m PFI contract for Kilmarnock jail.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the private jail's operator had resisted giving the information to the union Unison.

They argued it would substantially prejudice the contractor's commercial interests.

Unison said it was "a major victory for the public's right to know".

The prison is operated by Serco on behalf of the Scottish Prison Service.

The SPS said it was "currently considering its response".

This decision is extremely important and should help pave the way for greater access to information about all PFI/PPP contracts
Dave Watson
Unison

Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion said the significance of the financial model data had diminished substantially since the 25-year contract was signed in November 1997.

Unison's Scottish organiser Dave Watson said the union had long argued there was too much secrecy around PFI and Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts.

"Too often the public is denied information about the costs of hospital, school and prison contracts on the grounds of commercial prejudice or commercial confidentiality," he said.

"This decision is extremely important and should help pave the way for greater access to information about all PFI/PPP contracts."

Unison had also requested the Full Business Case (FBC) for the Kilmarnock Prison, but Mr Dunion accepted this was not held.

Mr Watson added: "The fact that there is no Full Business Case for the prison speaks volumes about the way public funding has been wasted on PFI/PPP.

"The public was always told these projects would deliver value for money but has seen these claims unravel spectacularly over the years.

"The figures have frequently been manipulated, or withheld, or in this case, were not even calculated beforehand in any meaningful way."



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