Kenny MacAskill praised the controversial intervention of his successor, Michael Matheson, in the decision over whether Chief Constable Phil Gormley should return to active duty while under investigation for the allegations, which he denies.
Mr Gormley, who went on special leave in September, received the unanimous backing of police watchdog the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to return to work in November but remains on leave following Mr Matheson’s discussions with the SPA.
Writing in the i newspaper, Mr MacAskill said Mr Gormley cannot be allowed to “hang around” Police Scotland’s corporate headquarters at Tulliallan “like a bad smell”.
The former Justice Secretary stated: “It’s now suggested that investigations have exonerated Phil Gormley. But while his conduct may not have constituted a disciplinary offence, serious questions remain over his leadership style, given that the complaints came from senior colleagues.”
He added: “He should be allowed to depart with dignity, even if it means buying out the remainder of his contract. But go he must, for the good of the service, as having a harmonious senior command team is fundamental. He cannot provide that.
“The new Chair and acting Chief need to be allowed to get on with the job unfettered. He cannot hang around Tulliallan like a bad smell.
“A new Chief needs recruited, even if it’s hard to see past the current Deputy. But it’s time for the SPA to say: ‘Move along quietly, Chief Constable’.”