Scottish Information Commissioner Daren Fitzhenry has refused a freedom of information request to reveal details of expenses paid to individual justices of the peace.
Data relating to salaried sheriffs and judges have been publicly available since 2009, but Mr Fitzhenry ruled that there was "a clear distinction" from JPs' voluntary role and that they "may have had no expectation that their personal data would be disclosed".
JPs are unpaid but can claim travel and other costs. In his ruling the Commissioner believes publishing their expenses would have a "detrimental effect on the data subjects".
He observed that there appeared to be sufficient procedures in place to ensure adequate scrutiny of the expenses, and disclosure of the personal data was not necessary in order to be satisfied on this point.
He was also satisfied that "unfavourable and unjustified comparisons could be drawn from the information which may cause a degree of distress to the JPs concerned".
In response to the request, from campaigner Peter Cherbi, the Judicial Office for Scotland revealed that there are currently 248 JPs, with numbers ranging from 24 in Tayside, Central & Fife to 71 in South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway. In 2018-19, they received a total of £193,210, mostly in expenses, down from £205,914 the previous year.
Mr Cherbi criticised the Commissioner's decision as "regressive", and one that "effectively creates a separate rule of secrecy for JPs".