Leaked report casts doubt over Lothian Buses boss

Ian Craig was said to display 'intimidating and petulant behaviour when challenged'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Ian Craig was said to display 'intimidating and petulant behaviour when challenged'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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AN INVESTIGATION into complaints against Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig found there was “severe doubt” over his leadership abilities.

A leaked copy of the internal inquiry into grievances about Mr Craig – who earns a £270,000 annual salary as head of the publicly-owned firm – raised by three senior directors said he had “patently” failed to address their charges against him and ­labelled the entire senior management team “dysfunctional”.

Operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin and finance director Norman Strachan, known in the company as the Annandale Three, made a series of allegations against Mr Craig, 45, including his failure to involve them in the hiring and firing key staff.

Now for the first time the full grievances that fuelled the boardroom battle and an internal investigation have been laid bare. In their letter of complaint, seen by The Scotsman, the directors said: “We feel Mr Craig’s management and leadership has become of such concern that we no longer have any trust or confidence in his actions.

“He displays intimidating and petulant behaviour when challenged which has made it impossible to discuss the issues raised in this grievance with him.”

The report goes on to describe Mr Craig’s manner in dealing with staff as “questionable” and said he had “failed to realise how insensitive his actions were perceived to be”.

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However, the inquiry, by John Martin, a non-executive director of the Edinburgh-based firm, said Mr Craig, who under the umbrella of Transport for Edinburgh oversees both bus and tram operations in the capital, had not “failed to the extent that disciplinary action is required”.

The report also said if the directors had acted more forcefully “it is possible some of the current difficulties may have been nipped in the bud”.

Mr Martin, a former Scottish Government transport official, also said Mr Craig “did not significantly dissent” from the directors’ claim they operated in “separate parallel worlds” .

Upholding five out of eight grievances, he says of Mr Craig: “He has, however, not done as well as he may himself think, and as might be inferred by the public from the relative success of the company since he took over. Improvements in his approach and performance are needed.”

Following the submission of Mr Martin’s report to the board, chairwoman Ann Faulds, with the full backing of board members, approached the city council with a view to sacking Mr Craig. However, he was not sacked and instead Ms Faulds submitted her own resignation.

The four directors have since returned to work at the Annandale Street HQ and are understood to be complying with a mediation process overseen by interim chairman and non-executive director, Tony Depledge.

It remains to be seen the success of this process given the deep-rooted grievances and subsequent treatment of Ms Faulds.

City transport convener Lesley Hinds said she deplored the leaking of a confidential report. She added: “Tony Depledge continues to work tirelessly to restore stability to Lothian Buses after such an unsettled period for the ­company.”

Mr Depledge said: “I’m angry and disappointed that such a sensitive document has been leaked. This investigation, as far as I’m concerned, is not yet complete as the chief executive has not had the opportunity to respond to the matters upheld.

“I will be looking closely at how the whole process was handled and at the points raised within the investigation which focus on all of the executive directors, not just the chief executive.”

Transport for Edinburgh is the umbrella body, set up in 2013, to oversee Edinburgh Trams and Lothian Buses in the city. On its creation, Mr Craig who had served as chief executive of Lothian Buses, became one of the highest paid public officials in Scotland.

The three executive directors who registered a grievance against Mr Craig were each paid just under £190,000 in 2012, including bonuses.

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