Former Scottish Police Authority chair confirms no arrangements had been put in place for Chief Constable Phil Gormley’s return to work
Andrew Flanagan - Image credit: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
The former Scottish Police Authority (SPA) chair Andrew Flanagan has confirmed that no arrangements had been put in place to protect those who had made complaints against the chief constable of Police Scotland the day before he was due to return to work.
A press release that had been prepared by the SPA said that “had taken necessary steps with Police Scotland to ensure suitable arrangements are put in place to support the welfare of all involved parties until the alleged conduct issues are concluded”.
But last week acting chief constable Iain Livingstone last week told Holyrood that those claims in the press release that arrangements had been put in place were “not true” and he had not been informed of the chief constable’s return from leave.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee yesterday, Flanagan said the SPA “couldn’t really start those discussions until the cabinet secretary had been informed”.
He added that “it was always our intention that that would have been put in place”.
Although Flanagan told the committee he couldn’t remember the date of the meeting where he informed Justice Secretary Michael Matheson that Chief Constable Phil Gormley had been recalled from special leave, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has confirmed that it was 9 November – the day before Chief Constable Phil Gormley would be back in the office.
Cross-questioned by MSPs on who knew that the SPA was due to discuss Gormley’s return at its board meeting that week, it emerged that the discussion had been scheduled under ‘any other business’, so it would not be evident to anyone who didn’t already know.
Meanwhile, former SPA chief executive John Foley was unable to confirm what happened to minutes he had taken of the decision after the meeting, although SPA board member Nicola Marchant then confirmed the minutes had been circulated around the board.
Flanagan suggested that as the chief constable’s review period was due for renewal it “would have been evident to those who were close to the situation that it must be a topic of discussion” and that it had been mentioned in the press.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie commented: “It doesn’t seem particularly strong in the way it’s been handled.”
Follow SNP committee member Alex Neil went further, describing the SPA’s recent performance as a “pantomime”.