Michael Matheson: Police Scotland ‘acting quickly’ over misconduct allegations

Written by Tom Freeman on 29 November 2017 in News

Michael Matheson set to face MSPs after being accused of being 'posted missing' as Justice Secretary

Michael Matheson - Scottish Parliament

Police Scotland are ‘acting quickly’ to investigate allegations of misconduct and criminality by a number of officers, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson will tell parliament today.

A number of officers have been suspended including assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins following an investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which includes seven Scottish officers involved in a murder investigation.

The scandal follows the chief constable Phil Gormley being put on leave of absence after allegations of bullying, and the departure of the chief executive and chair of governing body the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

Acting chief constable Iain Livingstone yesterday told the SPA “It is clearly a very challenging time for policing in Scotland,” but added he had “absolute confidence in the leadership provided by the officers and staff that serve in Police Scotland”.

He appointed two temporary assistant chief constables.

Gillian MacDonald will be responsible for the portfolio of major crime, local crime and public protection, while Alan Speirs will be responsible for professionalism and assurance, including professional standards, legal services and other elements of data and corporate assurance.

In a statement to parliament today, Matheson is expected to tell MSPs Livingstone has “acted quickly to review his command structure, securing the approval of the SPA to strengthen his senior team”.

“In doing so, he stated his confidence in the leadership provided by Police Scotland’s officers and staff – at each and every level of the force, from the senior officers all the way through the organisation to the police constables serving their local communities. I wholeheartedly support this view.”

But opposition parties accused Matheson of dodging his responsibilities as Justice Secretary.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said Matheson had refursed to ask parliamentary questions and let Transport Minister Humza Yousaf “take the heat” for the merger of British Transport Police into Police Scotland.

“The crisis in the Police Scotland is the responsibility of the justice secretary and no amount of wriggling will get him off the hook,” he said.

Labour’s justice spokesperson Claire Baker said: “In the four short years of the single police force we have seen the Scottish Government preside over crisis after crisis within Police Scotland and the SPA. Throughout all this Matheson has been posted missing. 

 “The Scottish Government cannot continue to hide from the mistakes that they have made and the failures that are continually happening on their watch.”

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