Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins returns from suspension

A leading police officer is to return to work after being suspended, but remains under investigation by a watchdog.

Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Bernard Higgins was stood down from his duties by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) in November after a number of allegations were made against him. Picture: John Devlin

Last night lawyer Callum Anderson issued a statement saying that assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins would be resuming his duties following an investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

Mr Anderson said Mr Higgins, who faced alleged criminal and misconduct allegations, was resuming his duties – despite two Pirc inquiries still ongoing.

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A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed Mr Higgins would return to work on

19 March.

Mr Anderson, of Levy & MacRae, said: “ACC Higgins is pleased to return to his duties. He has fully co-operated with every stage of the investigation and provided a substantial body of evidence to the ­[Scottish Police] Authority to demonstrate that all of the anonymous unspecific allegations against him are entirely without foundation.”

Mr Higgins, who was stood down by the Scottish Police Authority last November with three other police officers, denied any wrongdoing.

Supporters of Mr Higgins accused Pirc of conducting a “witch hunt” against him.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar said the “farcical investigation dragged out for months by Pirc was a total disgrace”.

He said: “It’s totally unacceptable that an individual with an impeccable work record, without blemish, was treated this way. It smacks of a witch hunt.

“Bernie Higgins is entitled to full public apology.”

Mr Anwar added: “My concern now is, who holds Pirc to account?”

A Pirc spokesman said: “A number of allegations, alleging both criminality and misconduct, about a senior officer were referred by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Scottish Police Authority to the Pirc. The Pirc has responsibility to investigate such allegations … and then to report to the COPFS and/or the SPA.

“In this case, reports will be submitted to both the COPFS, in relation to the criminal allegations and to the SPA in respect of the misconduct allegations, for their consideration of any appropriate action.

“The question of suspension is a matter for the SPA and is an entirely different process from its consideration of whether or not there is a case to answer by the senior officer.”