Northern Constabulary, which covers the Highlands and the Island Authorities of Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles, had refused to reveal the cost of providing its chief constable and his deputy with Range Rovers after a request by a journalist working in Aberdeen.
The Press and Journal newspaper lodged a freedom of information request to find out how much the force was spending buying and maintaining the cars. In a judgement, the Scottish Information Commissioner told the Northern Constabulary to publish the amount of money it spends on providing the 4x4s.The request from the newspaper came after it was noticed in January 2005 that the force had swapped two Volvo saloons for 3.0-litre Td5 Range Rovers, which can cost up to £56,000.
The Commissioner said the force had two months to release the information or appeal against the decision at the Court of Session.
The force had argued that releasing such information would be considered to be a breach of confidence by Land Rover and other vehicle manufacturers because of the discounts offered.
In a 16-page document announcing its decision, the Commissioner wrote: ‘In its submissions to this office, Northern Constabulary failed to present a clear and cohesive case setting out why it was believed that the release of information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially its commercial interests.
‘Indeed, it should be noted that the force’s initial submission to this office referred only to the risk of substantial prejudice to Land Rover UK’s commercial interests and made no direct reference to any risk of harm to equivalent interests of the force.’
A spokesman for the force told Fleet NewsNet the matter would be discussed by its board next week.