Phil Gormley resignation puts an end to PIRC gross misconduct investigations

Written by Jenni Davidson on 7 February 2018 in News

The Police Scotland chief constable has resigned with immediate effect in the wake of gross misconduct allegations

Phil Gormley - Image credit: PA

Under fire Police Scotland chief constable Phil Gormley has resigned from the force with immediate effect, putting an end to investigations into allegations of gross misconduct made against him.

Gormley said that in the light of the ongoing investigations by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), it would be “impossible” for him to return to his duties in a “meaningful way” before his contract finishes at the end of this year.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has agreed that Gormley will not have to work his notice, but he will receive three months’ salary for the notice period as well as pay for any outstanding annual leave.

This is in addition to the five months’ salary he has collected since September while on gardening leave.

The Chief Constable requested a leave of absence in September 2017 following the launch of the first gross misconduct investigation against him in July 2017.

Further allegations have since been made and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) was carrying out five investigations into claims that would, if proved, amount to gross misconduct, with the latest launched at the end of January 2018.

Gormley has always strongly denied the allegations.

In a statement on his decision to resign, Gormley said: “The events since November 2017 have led me to the conclusion that it is impossible for me to resume my duties in a meaningful way prior to the end of my contract.

“I now need to prioritise the health and wellbeing of my family on whom these events have taken a significant toll.

“The support of colleagues from across the UK with whom I have served during the last 32 years has been a source of great strength.

“As Chief Constable of Police Scotland I have had the privilege to meet and work with some exceptional people, I wish them well for the future and it is in their interests that I feel it is right to step aside.”

SPA chair Susan Deacon said Gormley had made a “significant contribution” to policing in Scotland.

She said: “The delivery of the 10-year strategy ‘Policing 2026: Serving a Changing Scotland’ provides a strong basis for Police Scotland to move forward.

“I would like to thank him for this contribution and wish him well for the future.

“This has been a challenging period for all concerned, and in the interest of policing in
Scotland we now need to move on.”

Gormley’s resignation will put an end to the PIRC investigations into allegations of gross misconduct against him.

A PIRC spokesperson confirmed to Holyrood that it would no longer be continuing with investigations after the resignation because they related to internal disciplinary procedures within the force.

The spokesperson said: “Following the announcement by the Scottish Police Authority today that the Chief Constable has tendered his resignation, all misconduct investigations about the Chief Constable being carried out by the PIRC will now come to an end.

“Reports containing the information gathered to date will be submitted to the SPA.”

Had PIRC found at the end of its investigations that there was a case to answer, it would have referred its findings back to the SPA to hold a misconduct hearing.

If an allegation of gross misconduct were proven, this would have resulted in summary dismissal by the SPA.

But opposition parties suggested Gormley’s resignation would not put an end to questions about the governance of policing in Scotland.

Labour shadow justice secretary Daniel Johnson said that Police Scotland has been “riddled by crisis and controversy for years” and the case of Phil Gormley had descended into “utter farce” and “raised serious questions about ministerial oversight”.

He added: "Regardless of Mr Gormley's decision to resign, there are still serious questions for Michael Matheson to answer."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the resignation of Gormley should not lead people to believe all the problems in Police Scotland are solved.

He commented: "The rate at which chief constables and SPA bosses have come and gone points to a much deeper issue.

“Problems are hardwired into the structures they are operating within.”

“Powers over policing should be shared across more individuals and communities to avoid these situations, rather than hoarded on the desk of the Justice Secretary.

“An independent expert review of how policing structures are operating is essential to inject accountability, transparency and localism back into the system."

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