Police boss tells tribunal he was unaware of concerns over payouts

John Foley.  Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
John Foley. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
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The former chief executive of the Scottish Police Authority has told an employment tribunal that he was unaware of concerns about a series of payments to senior figures.

John Foley, who took early retirement last year, said he did not know of issues raised by senior accountant Amy McDonald because he had not read a grievance she raised, believing it to be “inappropriate” to do so.

Mr Foley, who received a controversial £57,000 golden handshake payment when he left the SPA, gave evidence at Ms McDonald’s employment tribunal in Glasgow yesterday.

Ms McDonald turned whistleblower amid concerns over the “gross misuse of public resources” at the SPA, which oversees Police Scotland’s £1.1bn annual budget.

Mr Foley said he only became aware of the full extent of Ms McDonald’s concerns when her grievance was passed to him by the SPA’s then chair, Andrew Flanagan, in May last year.

The tribunal heard that Ms McDonald first raised her grievance with Mr Foley in July 2016 but he did not read the details of the e-mail, allowing the matter to be dealt with by the SPA’s head of legal.

Asked why he hadn’t seen the grievance he said: “It did appear in my inbox but I didn’t open it. It would have been inappropriate.”

Mr Foley said he had been aware from January 2017 of concerns over relocation expenses being paid to Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick which would eventually total almost £70,000.

But he said the first time he was aware of concerns over a series of payments to other senior figures was when Mr Flanagan forwarded him an e-mail detailing Mrs McDonald’s grievance in May last year.

During his time giving evidence yesterday, Mr Flanagan said that for the “most part” he had been aware of all the transaction by the time he read Mrs McDonald’s e-mail in May.

Asked whether he was aware that some of the allegations being made had been looked at by the SPA, he said: “I believe that John Foley had investigated each of them. We felt that based on the fact that it might go to litigation, then we should get some third party assurance that John had handled the investigation appropriately.”

Asked later by Mrs McDonald’s solicitor, David Hay, whether he had discussed the transactions with Mr Flanagan before May last year, Mr Foley said: “I don’t recall that, no. The only way that could have been the case is if something had emerged in the discussions between the SPA’s legal representatives and Amy’s legal representatives.”

Asked by Mr Hay why he had unaware of concerns over payments made to individuals known as “CD”, “EF” and “GH”, when they had been raised by Mrs McDonald in July 2016, Mr Foley replied: “I never saw the grievance.”

The tribunal continues.