Michael Matheson wins backing over chief constable row
Susan Deacon, a former Labour health secretary, told the Scottish Parliament's justice committee she had found the SPA's decision-making "wanting", adding that Michael Matheson would have been "failing in his duty" had he not asked questions about allowing Phil Gormley to resume duties.
Under its previous chair, Andrew Flanagan, the SPA board approved Mr Gormley's return to work in November before the intervention by Mr Matheson.
The chief constable has been on leave since September while bullying allegations are investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).
Mr Gormley denies any wrongdoing.
MSPs also heard from Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone who said the SPA told him "deliberations were ongoing" the day after it had agreed to let Mr Gormley return.
Former SPA chair Mr Flanagan and the organisation's former chief executive, John Foley, are due to give evidence to Holyrood's audit committee on Thursday.