AN INVESTIGATION into a senior policeman who was on fully paid “gardening leave” for nearly three years has finally been dropped – after costing the taxpayer more than £1 million.
Almost four years after serious allegations of misconduct were made against former Central Scotland Police assistant chief constable (ACC) John Mauger, the case has officially been closed.
Mr Mauger was receiving more than £104,000 a year until last July – despite not working since June 2010, while misconduct allegations against him were investigated.
The cost of keeping Mr Mauger on paid leave and the legal fees of the investigation are expected to top £1m.
Now politicians are calling for an explanation and an inquiry into how this situation was allowed to go on for so long before a resolution was reached.
Mr Mauger joined the now defunct Central Scotland Police in April 2009.
But 14 months later, he was put on gardening leave amid claims of insubordination and inefficiency, after supposed clashes with the then chief constable of his force, Kevin Smith.
Mr Mauger was alleged to have criticised Mr Smith to other officers.
It has always been stressed that Mr Mauger was not suspended, and he finally returned to work last July as an ACC with the newly formed Police Scotland, although not one of the six with a role in its executive.
An inquiry into the allegations was carried out by Chief Constable Colin McKerracher of Grampian Police, and it was presented to board members in 2011. However, all allegations of misconduct were finally dismissed on two weeks ago by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), lifting the threat hanging over the officer, but leaving the taxpayer to foot a large bill.
Mr Mauger has always declined to comment, but a source close to him previously said: “This is a waste of public money and, so far, no-one has been taken to task.”
It is understood that he is now involved in “project work”.
The new SPA assumed many of the responsibilities, functions and liabilities related to existing complaints, conduct and misconduct matters.
A source said yesterday that Mr Mauger had not been permitted to undertake front-line duties and was unable to put his wealth of experience to use.
For four years, a wall of silence has been thrown up around the inquiry, with those involved effectively gagged from speaking about any incident.
But with this week’s news that the officer has no case to answer, calls have come from politicians for a full explanation of the events.
Michael Matheson, the SNP MSP for Falkirk West, said: “Given the length of time that this matter has been dragging on and the considerable amount of taxpayers’ money involved, the public deserve an explanation from Police Scotland on how this whole affair has been handled.”
His comments were echoed by his Falkirk East colleague Angus MacDonald, who said: “This issue has dragged on for an unacceptable period of time.
“I would be keen to know if Police Scotland intend to investigate the whole process and the chain of events.
“However, I am disappointed the issue was not properly addressed at the time by the former Central Scotland Joint Police Board.”
The SPA declined to comment on an individual case.