THE chairman of Scotland’s police watchdog claimed expenses for attending the funerals of the officers killed in Glasgow’s Clutha helicopter crash.
Vic Emery, who earned £90,000 last year for leading the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), submitted claims totalling hundreds of pounds after joining mourners at three services.
Pilot David Traill, who was attached to the Police Scotland air support unit, and police constables Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis were killed when the Eurocopter EC 135 they were in crashed on top of the Clutha bar in Glasgow in November 2013. Seven other people died inside the pub.
Mr Emery and other board members had filed expenses and allowances worth hundreds of pounds after attending the funerals in Glasgow and Arran.
Mr Emery said he was donating the amount he had received to the Clutha Trust.
The SPA said it and senior police officers had made attending these events a “priority for their professional time”, but that SPA members were remunerated at a day rate for the duties they took on, plus travel expenses incurred.
The funeral of Captain Traill was the first to be held at the University of Glasgow. PC Collins was buried on the Isle of Arran and a funeral was held for PC Nelis at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow.
Mr Emery said: “I felt it important to ensure that the SPA was represented at each of these occasions, and we all judged that these were professional responsibilities as well as personal commitments.
“We will clearly reflect on these examples in considering our future commitments and will seek further clarity from the Scottish Government on what constitutes corporate and personal activities.”
In total, Mr Emery made three expense claims to attend Clutha funerals.
On 7 December, 2013, he clawed back £135 for 0.3 days of his time as well as £2.25 mileage to go to the funeral of Captain Traill.
Three days later, he claimed £540 for 1.2 days and £32 mileage to attend the Isle of Arran funeral of PC Collins.
On 12 December, he went on to put in a further claim for attending the funeral of PC Nelis before going back to his office.
Another three board members also claimed part of their daily allowance and mileage costs to attend Clutha funerals or memorial services.
Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “This news will stun police officers all over Scotland. The notion that profit was even a consideration suggests poor judgement and leaves an exceptionally bad taste in the mouth.”
He went on: “Hundreds of police officers willingly give up their own time to attend the funerals and memorials for the Clutha victims and did so simply because it was the right thing to do.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “This does not look good. We all make mistakes. What matters is putting it right.”
A spokeswoman for the SPA said: “Senior police officers made attending these events a priority for their professional time. The SPA also shared that approach.
“The key difference is that SPA members are non-executives and are remunerated at a day rate for the duties they take on, plus travel expenses incurred.”