Police Scotland: Why I suspect Nicola Sturgeon had a role in Stephen House's resignation as Chief Constable – Kenny MacAskill MP

Suggestions that Steve House’s resignation as Police Scotland’s Chief Constable was sought by Nicola Sturgeon, despite protestations to the contrary, doesn’t surprise me in the least, as it bears all the hallmark of her centralised regime and blatant disregard for the separation of powers.

Stephen House moved from Strathclyde Police to take charge of Police Scotland when it was formed in 2013 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Steve House is an outstanding office and it’s no surprise that he’s re-appeared as Deputy Commissioner of the Met, and once again touted for the top job.

I know and like him but the rating comes from his peers. He raised hackles with some but, uniformly, those in senior office hold him in the highest regard.

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His track record in Scotland was exceptional: tackling violence and domestic violence in Scotland, and challenging the culture whether alcohol or machismo; shunning cosy relationships with ‘colourful west of Scotland businessmen’; and delivering a single service, despite all its challenges.

Chief Constables are supposed to be operationally independent and are appointed by the Police Authority, but if the First Minister seeks your removal there’s little you can do, however wrong it is. What makes me think she did? Because that’s how she operates.

When I was still in office and she was Deputy FM she wanted me to direct him over armed officers carrying side-arms.

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I’d been briefed by the Chief whose reasoning followed on from events in Europe and elsewhere. It was that if officers had to be armed, then it was essential they were able to use their firearms without any delay.

This caused outrage from some. Perish the thought that an armed officer might buy a bottle of juice or a sandwich. Or, even worse, as the nearest officers to assist, tend to an old lady who’d fallen. But such was the furore that Nicola had wanted me to tell him it must stop.

Since then we’ve seen a maniac wreak carnage in Glasgow and even worse in London, requiring armed officers to act immediately, not root about for a weapon locked away.

Praise was heaped upon them not least by the First Minister, despite the issue of officers carrying side-arms having been part of the death knell for Steve House’s tenure.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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