Andrew Flanagan steps down as chair of Scottish Police Authority

Andrew Flanagan. Picture: Scottish Parliament
Andrew Flanagan. Picture: Scottish Parliament
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The chair of Scotland’s police watchdog has announced he will stand down from the role.

Andrew Flanagan is resigning from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) amid ongoing controversy over his conduct and wider issues surrounding transparency and governance at the organisation.

He said: “Recent events have focused on my disagreement with a board member and perceptions of a wider lack of transparency in the SPA.

“I have apologised to the former board member and put in place changes to the governance processes of the SPA.

“There are many serious challenges faced by policing in Scotland but the continued media and Parliamentary debate on these issues risks coming a prolonged distraction.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said he was grateful to Mr Flanagan for his “significant contribution to policing”.

“However, he has acknowledged that mistakes have been made,” he said.

“He has offered a full and very public apology, and made clear changes to transparency and governance in light of the concerns raised.”

Mr Matheson also announced a review into the support provided to the SPA board.

It will be jointly led by SPA deputy chair Nicola Marchant and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar chief executive Malcolm Burr, and is expected to report in the autumn.

The review will “consider how the executive of SPA can best support the board to take informed, transparent decisions”, he said.

It comes in addition to a review of the SPA by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS) Derek Penman.

Mr Flanagan’s resignation followed mounting pressure from MSPs.

He came under fire at a series of parliamentary inquiries over governance and transparency within the organisation, and accusations of bullying a former SPA board member.

The Public Audit Committee was heavily critical, writing to Mr Matheson voicing “very serious concerns” about his conduct.

Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing last month declared it had “no confidence” in his leadership.

Mr Flanagan said he would consider the committee’s findings “very carefully” having previously refused to quit.

The workings of the SPA came under close scrutiny following a row over board meetings being held behind closed doors.

Revelations concerning Mr Flanagan’s conduct emerged during parliamentary sessions, including his “inappropriate” handling of board member Moi Ali, who quit after speaking out against the closed-door policy, and his failure to circulate a critical letter from Mr Penman to the rest of the board.

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “Andrew Flanagan has taken the right decision in the interests of the SPA.

“However, serious damage has already been done to the reputation of the organisation.

“For that, the SNP government must accept its full share of the blame, given their botched centralisation of policing.

“While the next chair must ensure there is now a genuine culture shift towards greater transparency and democracy, the Justice Secretary needs to guarantee this through legislation.”

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