Holyrood told police body’s chairman ‘misled’ MSPs

Scottish Police Authority chairman Andrew Flanagan and Chief Constable Philip Gormley gave evidence on Thursday. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Scottish Police Authority chairman Andrew Flanagan and Chief Constable Philip Gormley gave evidence on Thursday. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
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A former member of the Scottish Police Authority board who resigned in a row over transparency has accused the organisation’s chairman of providing an “inaccurate” account to MSPs.

Moi Ali quit the SPA amid claims she had been silenced after speaking out against a decision to hold committee meetings in private.

Appearing before the Scottish Parliament’s public audit committee yesterday, SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan said he had “taken exception” to Ms Ali speaking out about the move during a public meeting in December without raising it with him first.

Ms Ali, who had sat on the SPA board since its inception in 2013, responded by tweeting the letter sent to her by Mr Flanagan in December, in which he said she would not be allowed to sit on the organisation’s committees after raising objections to their work being done behind closed doors.

Ms Ali said she had decided to release the letter after hearing Mr Flanagan’s comments at the committee, which she said were “incorrect”.

She said she had told Mr Flanagan ahead of the December meeting that she intended to speak out.

Appearing in front of MSPs earlier yesterday, Mr Flanagan said: “If we’re going to conduct ourselves in public, the board members must be clear about their intentions and communicate their positions ahead of time.

“In this case, the board member did not and that’s what I took issue with. Dissent is OK but you have to be clear about your intentions and that’s what I took issue with.

“It’s ironic – if there had been openness and transparency from the member, then this situation would not have arisen.”

The SPA, which is responsible for the £1 billion Police Scotland budget, has been heavily criticised for its decision to hold most of its committee meetings in private.

Responding to Ms Ali’s tweets, audit committee convener Jenny Marra MSP said that the SPA letter was “heavy handed” and “seriously worrying”.

She tweeted: “SPA chair says that recording dissent not consistent with collective responsibility. Which would lead to the question, what’s the point in meeting in public if chair won’t tolerate dissenting opinions being raised?”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “If the chair of the SPA has given the parliament incorrect information then that is serious.

“The latest chapter in this story is further evidence of the SPA’s baseless opposition to transparency.”